Can You Recycle Plastic 'Sealed Air' Packaged Air / Void Fill?

Fill-Air, Air Pillows, Sealed Air and other inflatable packaging solutions are effective at protecting goods in transit. They have many benefits including:

  • They can be re-used.
  • They are very light weight and have a low volume before they are inflated. In fact, when deflated, they occupy 99% less volume.
  • They can be inflated on-site, right where parcels are being packaged.

Sealed Air Packaged Air In Fill

We currently use Sealed Air to protect some of our parcels in transit, like the one pictured above.

Packaged air is generally made from low density polyethylene (LDPE) plastic. As I stated earlier this week, I think we have a serious problem with plastic. So in my opinion, we really should try and avoid using any plastic packaging, or at least recycle it appropriately when it is used.

How to Recycle Plastic Packaged Air Fill

The good news is that this 'packaged air' in fill material can be recycled.

Because it is made from the same material as plastic shopping bags, all you need to do is:

  • Deflate each 'air pillow' and fold up to minimise the space occupied.
  • Place it in a drop-off bin, often located at your supermarket, along with any other 'soft plastics' that you have collected.

Soft plastics recycling bin at Coles

Soft plastics recycling bin at Coles.

Paper-Based or Other Infill Options

The main challenge with packaging infill is that it needs to be relatively strong and lightweight (so it doesn't adversely affect freight rates). I have discovered the same company that makes Sealed Air also makes a fully recycled and recyclable paper-fed option as pictured below.

Packaging paper in fill system

Alternative to plastic air filled pouches - a recycled paper based infill system.

Another popular packaging fill solution are those starch 'peanuts'. We used to use them, and they are actually easy to dispose of (you can dissolve them in water). But they tend to go everywhere and I would say that 99% of the time they just get thrown in the landfill bin, which is not a great outcome.

Another handy solution would be if courier companies and postal services did not handle parcels so roughly. Then we wouldn't even need to use infill, a cardboard box would do. Sadly, I am probably dreaming on this last option!

By Ryan McCarthy | |
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