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Are Packing Peanuts Recyclable? How To Tell

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Companies and individuals have been using packing peanuts to ship goods safely for as long as they have been sending goods. Due to the fact that they are made of polystyrene, and you can use tens of thousands of them when you move, but after you’ve unpacked many people want to know are packing peanuts recyclable before they dispose of them.

Packing peanuts come in different colors, and these include white, green, and pink. Typically these colored peanuts are recyclable, with green indicating they have been recycled already and pink meaning they are antistatic. Off-white and beige peanuts are usually biodegradable.

In this article, I will outline every aspect of conventional packing peanuts and how you can learn which ones are safe for the environment and even which ones are biodegradable.

They come in various colors signifying what they are made of, which also implies that they are recyclable. Keep reading to find out which packing peanuts are best for the environment. 

How Do I Tell If Packing Peanuts Are Recyclable Or Biodegradable?

The easiest way to tell if packing peanuts are biodegradable is by their color and then with a simple test. Biodegradable peanuts are off-white or beige in color, and when placed in water for several minutes, they will start to disintegrate.

On the other hand, recyclable packing peanuts will not dissolve in water and come in various colors that signify how they are made. There are three standard colors which are;

  • White
  • Green
  • Pink

Packing peanuts in these colors are typically recyclable, but you may have to contact a recycling facility or a takeback program to dispose of them properly. This is because your run-of-the-mill curbside recycling programs do not tend to accept them. 

Are Pink Packing Peanuts Recyclable?

Pink peanuts are definitely recyclable, and the reason they are dyed pink is to indicate that an antistatic agent has been used in their manufacturing process. This means that they won’t generate a static field and stick together or anything else. 

Can You Recycle Green Packing Peanuts?

Green packing peanuts are probably the most recyclable peanut due to their composition being approximately 70% recycled materials (polystyrene).

This means they were made from recyclable material already but will still require you to take them to a facility that can recycle packing peanuts.

Are Styrofoam Packing Peanuts Recyclable

Styrofoam is the common word for polystyrene packing peanuts. Pink, white, and green peanuts are made from this type of material and are recyclable. Green peanuts are, in fact, made from recyclable polystyrene. 

Are Peanuts Environmentally Friendly?

By no means are peanuts as a packing material friendly to the environment. Due to the fact they are made from polystyrene, they will spend years, if not decades, in lakes, landfills, and oceans, if they are not disposed of correctly or recycled. 

What Do I Do With Packing Peanuts?

The main purpose of foam packing peanuts is to use them as a cushioning material when packing and shipping delicate and fragile objects. You will place the item(s) in your shipping container and then fill them with peanuts to act as a soft cushion.

Besides being used for shipping purposes, a few other creative ideas allow you to utilize packing peanuts in and around the home. These ideas are great if you have an excessive amount or can’t seem to get them recycled.

Some ideas include;

  • They can be used as a pot plant filler
  • They can be used to fill or make a bean bag chair
  • They can be used as an insulator for your cooler
  • Stick them at the back of paintings or wall ornaments to protect your walls
  • You can use them for arts and crafts

How Long Does It Take For Biodegradable Packing Peanuts To Decompose?

Biodegradable packing peanuts only take a couple of minutes to dissolve in water. Depending on how many you have, it may take a little bit longer, but a couple of minutes is the norm.

How Do You Get Rid Of Dissolvable Packing Peanuts?

The best way to dissolve biodegradable packing peanuts is to place them in a large bucket and fill it with water. Once the peanuts have dissolved, one option is to pour the bucket out into one of your outside drains.

However, seeing as they do not harm the environment, you will probably be better off if you use the water to water your garden.

Can I Put Packing Peanuts Down The Drain?

Unless the peanuts have been dissolved already, it is not at all recommended that you start shoving biodegradable packing peanuts down your drain. First, check to see if they are biodegradable and if they are, then use the process I mentioned above to dispose of them. If they are not biodegradable, then you should do your part and have them recycled.

Are Packing Peanuts Harmful To The Environment?

As I stated above, packing peanuts are made from polystyrene, which is not biodegradable and, if thrown away or placed in landfills, it will take years for them to disintegrate.

Luckily enough, biodegradable peanuts are made from all-natural materials, including corn starch and wheat. These are perfectly safe for the environment.

Can You Put Bubble Wrap In The Recycling Bin?

At this stage, bubble wrap is manufactured in a way that is not recyclable. Therefore, you should not put it in the recycling bin but instead in the trash bin.

Are Packing Peanuts Toxic?

Polystyrene packing peanuts are indeed toxic to human beings if they are ingested. When polystyrene is exposed to acid or heat, it will break down and release toxic chemicals. If burned, the gas it will produce is harmful and can impair the nervous system. 

Conversely, biodegradable packing peanuts are non-toxic and are safe if humans and animals ingest them. However, their nutritional value is removed in the manufacturing process, and they are not recommended for eating.


You learned that you can recycle packing peanuts as most made nowadays are made from recyclable materials. However, you may need to call a recycling plant or a takeback program to get rid of them due to many recycling programs being unable to take them. The recyclable packing peanut colors are white, pink, and green.

You also learned that besides being recyclable, you also get biodegradable packing peanuts that are much safer for the environment. Where possible, you should always attempt to use them.

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Authored by: Mila

Mila is passionate about living sustainability and encouraging others to do the same. Writing about practical steps we can all take to reduce our impact on the environment.