How to Recycle Packing Peanuts [Green Solutions]

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Packing peanuts, those little pieces of foam that fill our packages, usually in white or light colors and ranging from 1/8 to 1/2 inch in size, serve as a cost-effective and lightweight solution for protecting delicate items. 

Despite their benefits, they come with challenges—they can be tricky to remove from packages, and they aren’t eco-friendly. 

This has led many to seek alternatives such as bubble wrap or paper for packaging.

However, despite their inconveniences, packing peanuts remains essential for shielding fragile items during shipping. 

Recognizing their bulkiness and environmental concerns, people are exploring greener options. 

In this guide, we’ll explore how to recycle packing peanuts, covering everything from understanding their composition to adopting proper disposal methods. 

Let’s explore the various aspects and discover sustainable options for packaging.

What Packing Peanuts Is Made Up Of?

disposal of packing peanuts
Image Credit:

Packing peanuts, those familiar lightweight materials used to protect delicate items during shipping, are mainly made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) or starch-based materials.

Expanded polystyrene is a type of plastic foam, while starch-based alternatives, like biodegradable packing peanuts, focus on being environmentally friendly. 

This comparison between traditional EPS and biodegradable starch-based options highlights the wider environmentally conscious initiatives in packaging. 

It allows consumers to make choices that match sustainability goals, all while ensuring the secure transport of fragile items.

Preparing Packing Peanuts For Recycle

1. Separate from Other Materials Start by isolating the packing peanuts from other materials like cardboard boxes or plastic wrap. 

This step enhances the efficiency of the recycling process and prevents any potential contamination.

2. Check for Contaminants: Inspect the packing peanuts for any unwanted elements like tape, labels, or other materials that can’t be recycled. 

Eliminate these contaminants since they can disrupt the recycling process.

3. Sort by Material Type: Organize the packing peanuts based on their material type. If you have a mix of traditional EPS and biodegradable options, separate them accordingly. 

This step is essential because recycling methods can vary depending on the material type.

4. Bag or Container: For “Bag or Container” in recycling packing peanuts, just collect them in a bag or container. 

Use a clear bag if you can; it helps recycling centre staff identify the contents easily, making the recycling process more efficient and environmentally friendly.

5. Explore Nearby Recycling Choices: Look into local recycling options to discover convenient drop-off locations or programs for packing peanuts. 

Recycling centres, nearby businesses, or mail-back programs might be willing to take them.

Make sure to contact your local recycling facilities to confirm their ability to process the specific type of packing peanuts you possess.

6. Abide by Recycling Instructions: Follow the guidelines set by the recycling centre or program. 

Some facilities may have particular requirements or instructions for recycling packing peanuts. 

Ensure you stick to these guidelines to enhance the efficiency of the recycling process.

Now that you have a grasp of the basics about packing peanuts and how to prepare them for recycling,  let’s explore how to dispose of recyclable packing peanuts.

How to Recycle Packing Peanuts: The Right Way  

1. EPS Packing Peanuts Recycling

1.1 Local Drop-Off Centers

When it comes to recycling packing peanuts, especially the expanded polystyrene (EPS) variety, there are two primary methods to ensure it’s done right. 

First, consider utilizing Local Drop-Off Centers – many recycling facilities and local businesses welcome EPS packing peanuts for recycling. 

To find the nearest drop-off points, it’s advisable to check with your local recycling facilities.

1.2 Mail-Back Programs

Another convenient option is participating in Mail-Back Programs offered by certain companies. 

Through these programs, you can simply send your packing peanuts to be recycled. 

To make the process even more seamless, take some time to research and select a mail-back program that aligns with your convenience and sustainability preferences.

2. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts Recycling Options

2.1 Backyard Composting

When it comes to how to recycle biodegradable packing peanuts there are environmentally friendly recycling options to consider. 

Specifically, for those crafted from starch, you can choose to go for Backyard Composting.

Generally, these peanuts are suitable for composting in your home compost bin, but it’s crucial to ensure they’re free from contaminants before adding them to your compost. 

2.2 Consult the Manufacturer

Another important step is to reach out to the manufacturer for guidance. 

Companies that produce biodegradable packing peanuts often offer specific instructions on recycling these materials, which may include advice on composting or other eco-friendly disposal methods.

Composting or following the manufacturer’s recommendations, you play a part in promoting sustainable practices and minimizing the environmental impact associated with packaging materials.

Why Recycling is Important?

Image Credit:

1. Preserving Resources

Regular packing peanuts, derived from petroleum, a finite resource, can be recycled to curb the demand for more oil extraction, safeguarding our limited fossil fuel reserves. 

On the other hand, biodegradable peanuts, often crafted from renewable sources like corn starch, help reduce dependence on non-renewable materials, promoting a more sustainable approach.

2. Reducing Energy Usage

Creating new packing peanuts from the ground up demands substantial energy, spanning the extraction and refining of materials to the manufacturing and transportation processes.

Recycling, however, is a more energy-efficient approach, cutting down overall greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the fight against climate change.

3. Reducing Environmental Harm

Overflowing landfills filled with non-biodegradable peanuts pose a risk of releasing harmful chemicals into the soil and groundwater. 

By diverting them from landfills, recycling helps mitigate pollution, safeguarding ecosystems in the process. 

Additionally, the production of new peanuts can contribute to air and water pollution from manufacturing plants. 

Opting for recycling over manufacturing new ones is a key step in diminishing this pollution, and fostering a cleaner environment for all.

Even though one packing peanut might not seem important, millions are used every day. Recycling just a few of them makes a difference. 

It sets a good example, encouraging others to manage waste responsibly. These small efforts add up, making a big impact for a better and more sustainable future.

Recycling packing peanuts isn’t just good for the environment; it helps companies save money on waste disposal and can create new jobs in recycling. 

Ways to Reuse Packing Peanuts

Before tossing packing peanuts into the trash, explore imaginative ways to give them a second life

1. Cushioning Material: Hang on to packing peanuts for future shipping needs. They excel as cushioning material, ensuring the protection of delicate items during transit.

2. Craft Projects: Unleash your creativity by incorporating packing peanuts into art and craft projects. 

Their unique texture and shape can add an intriguing touch to various creative undertakings.

3. Seed Starters: If you happen to have biodegradable packing peanuts, consider using them as seed starters in your garden. 

These peanuts offer a lightweight and eco-friendly medium for seeds to sprout before being planted in the soil.

Repurposing packing peanuts in these ways, not only prolongs their usefulness but also plays a part in reducing waste and adopting a more sustainable approach to everyday items.

Packing Peanuts Disposal Options & Programs

When recycling isn’t an option for packing peanuts, consider these responsible ways to dispose of them

1. Landfill Responsibly: If recycling isn’t viable, make sure the landfill you choose accepts packing peanuts and dispose of them properly. 

Check local regulations to ensure compliance with waste disposal guidelines.

2. Donate to Schools or Businesses: Some schools and businesses creatively use packing peanuts for educational or packing purposes. 

Donating them to these institutions offers a second life for the peanuts and supports community initiatives.

3. Choose Earth-Friendly Alternatives: Whenever possible, go for biodegradable or recyclable alternatives instead of traditional polystyrene peanuts. 

This decision helps reduce the environmental impact associated with packing materials, promoting a more eco-friendly approach to disposal.


To sum up, recycling packing peanuts represents a modest yet meaningful stride toward a more sustainable future. 

Adhering to these guidelines allows you to play a part in reducing waste, conserving resources, and promoting environmental well-being. 

Keep in mind, that every individual effort contributes to the greater cause of preserving our planet.


Are Amazon packing peanuts recyclable?

Usually, Amazon packing peanuts are made of expanded polystyrene (EPS), which is not widely accepted in curbside recycling.
However, some recycling centers or specialized programs may take them. Check with your local recycling facilities for specific guidelines.

Are packing peanuts biodegradable?

It depends on the type. Traditional packing peanuts made from EPS are not biodegradable, but there are eco-friendly alternatives crafted from materials like starch that are biodegradable.
Always check the packaging or contact the manufacturer for information on the type of peanuts you have.

Can I put packing peanuts in compost?

If you have biodegradable packing peanuts made from materials like starch, they are often suitable for composting.
Ensure they are free from contaminants before adding them to your compost bin.
Traditional EPS packing peanuts, however, should not be composted.

Does Staples recycle packing peanuts?

Some Staples stores may accept packing peanuts for recycling.
It’s best to check with your local Staples store or contact their customer service to inquire about their specific recycling programs for packing peanuts.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.