Recycling Packaging Peanuts


Packaging peanuts are used in most shipping businesses as a lightweight solution to prevent packages from moving around in their boxes and avoid damaging the good that is being shipped; as well they are excellent at finding their way into every nook and cranny in your house. That is just about where the average American’s knowledge ends on these Styrofoam messes. Today I am going to provide information on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle these packaging peanuts.

Packaging peanuts have most likely found their way into every persons’ household at one point, and those who have experienced this knows the small window between useful instrument and disastrous mess these peanuts can be attributed. Since they are so lightweight, the peanuts make an ideal package stabilizer, being able to take up a lot of empty room while not adding weight. But with a swift gust of wind, the entire room can become drenched in these foam nuisances. There are different types of packaging peanuts, but most are made of a polystyrene plastic (E911). Many companies use this style of peanut, but if disposed of improperly the peanuts can take hundreds of years to decompose (WH).  One way to reduce the decomposition age of these peanuts is to encourage businesses to use the biodegradable alternative to these peanuts. These biodegradable peanuts tend to come in a green color and are made from vegetable starches and will completely dissolve in water (WH).

The best way to recycle these peanuts is to simply reuse them yourself for everyday household uses. According to WikiHow,com, some daily uses can be, but are not limited to:

  • Reuse them in your own packages to friends and family
  • Collect the peanuts in a bag for future use
  • Place some into zip-lock bags with ice to insulate coolers to maintain a cold temperature
  • Substitute packaging peanuts for gravel in the bottom of your gardens planters
  • Hook a few onto your keychain to make your keys float in water
  • Stuff a pillow case for a low-maintenance pet pillow
  • Donate the peanuts to a nearby business you know ships packages often

Recycling packaging peanuts is not impossible, but it tends to be more difficult than many presume. Although plastic #6, polystyrene, is recyclable, in many cases curbside recycling will not get the job done. To successfully recycle packaging peanuts, one can ship their unused and leftover peanuts to the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers at one of their locations posted on . (E911)


  1. (WH) “How to Recycle Packing Peanuts.” WikiHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.
  2. (E911) “How to Recycle Packing Peanuts –” Earth911com. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

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