As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, many businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. One way to do this is by using biodegradable products, such as packing peanuts. In this brief guide, we explore the benefits of biodegradable packing peanuts, how they work, and how to dispose of them properly.
Introduction to Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
Packing peanuts are a popular way to protect items during shipping. They are small, lightweight, and fill the empty space in boxes to prevent items from moving around. However, traditional packing peanuts are made from materials that are not biodegradable, such as polystyrene foam. These materials can take hundreds of years to break down, creating a significant environmental impact.
Biodegradable packing peanuts, on the other hand, are made from materials that can decompose naturally over time. This makes them a more sustainable option for businesses that want to reduce their environmental impact.
What Does Biodegradable Mean?
The term “biodegradable” refers to the ability of a material to break down into natural substances over time. Biodegradable products can be broken down by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, into carbon dioxide, water, and other natural substances. This process is known as biodegradation.
In contrast, non-biodegradable products, such as traditional packing peanuts, do not decompose naturally and can take hundreds of years to break down. This creates a significant environmental impact and contributes to the growing problem of plastic pollution.
The Importance of Using Biodegradable Products
Using biodegradable products is an important way to reduce our impact on the environment. When non-biodegradable materials are disposed of improperly, they can end up in landfills or the ocean. This creates pollution and harms wildlife.
Biodegradable products, such as packing peanuts, can help to reduce this pollution by breaking down naturally over time. This reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and the ocean, helping to protect the environment and wildlife.
Types of Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
There are several types of biodegradable packing peanuts available, each made from different materials. Some of the most common types of biodegradable packing peanuts include:
Starch-Based Packing Peanuts
Starch-based packing peanuts are made from corn starch or potato starch. They are completely biodegradable and can be composted in a home composting system. These peanuts are also water-soluble, making them easy to dispose of. Air Sea USA use corn starch peanuts in their 4GV packaging as an alternative to the traditional dangerous goods cushioning, vermiculite. These white odourless peanuts are a lightweight and dust-free alternative to Vermiculite and provide shock and impact protection to inner packagings during transport.
Mushroom-Based Packing Peanuts
Mushroom-based packing peanuts are made from mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms. They are completely biodegradable, non-toxic and can be composted in a home composting system.
How do Biodegradable Packing Peanuts Work?
Biodegradable packing peanuts work by breaking down naturally over time. When exposed to microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, the peanuts begin to decompose, eventually breaking down into carbon dioxide, water, and other natural substances.
This process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of biodegradable packing peanuts and the conditions they are exposed to. In general, biodegradable packing peanuts require moisture, warmth, and oxygen to decompose properly.
Advantages of Using Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
There are several advantages to using biodegradable packing peanuts, including:
Reduced Environmental Impact
Biodegradable packing peanuts have a significantly reduced environmental impact compared to traditional packing peanuts. They break down naturally over time, reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and the ocean.
Biodegradable packing peanuts are made from sustainable materials, such as corn starch, mycelium and potato starch. This makes them a more eco-friendly option for businesses that want to reduce their carbon footprint.
Easy to Dispose of
Biodegradable packing peanuts are easy to dispose of. They can be composted in a composting system, or some you can simply put in water and they will break down. This makes them a convenient option for businesses.
The Future of Biodegradable Packing Peanuts
As businesses become more environmentally conscious, the demand for biodegradable packing peanuts is expected to increase. This will drive innovation and the development of new, eco-friendly materials for packaging.
In addition, governments around the world are implementing regulations to reduce plastic pollution and encourage the use of biodegradable products. This will further drive the adoption of biodegradable packing peanuts and other sustainable packaging options.
Take care when using UN approved packaging, for example, 4G and 4GV fibreboard box approvals will specifically detail what type of packaging fill has been used to pass the relevant tests. This can differ and is a good reason why users of packaging must obtain manufacturers assembly instructions prior to use. Using the incorrect packaging material will invalidate the UN approval.
Biodegradable packing peanuts are a more sustainable option for businesses that want to reduce their environmental impact or require a dust-free alternative to vermiculite when used in dangerous goods packaging. They are made from eco-friendly materials, break down naturally over time and are easy to dispose of. However, do consult with your packaging manufacturer and check what specific packaging fill materials have been approved with any UN approved packaging first.