Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

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How To Choose The Best Biodegradable Packing Peanuts (And Where To Get Them)

Nov 9, 2022

If you want to make your business more sustainable, biodegradable packing peanuts and other eco-friendly packaging solutions are a good place to start.

Most packing peanuts are made from styrofoam and take centuries to decompose. That means they’ll just sit in landfills, contaminating the ecosystem and harming wildlife. But if you switch to a biodegradable solution, you’ll eliminate all that extra plastic and pollution.

Here’s our list of biodegradable packing suppliers to get you started—plus more ways to reduce your brand’s environmental impact.

Partner with Route to offset your carbon emissions while protecting your shipments from loss, theft, or damage.

What are biodegradable packing peanuts?

Biodegradable packing peanuts (or packing noodles) are lightweight tubular forms that fill packages to protect fragile items. They’re usually made of cornstarch and dissolve in water without generating any toxic waste. 

How are they different from other packing peanuts?

Most packing peanuts are made from styrofoam, which makes recycling and decomposing them extremely difficult. They’re a big risk to wildlife, especially birds, whose digestive systems can easily become clogged by this packaging.

Biodegradable packing peanuts in a box covering a ceramic vase
The packing peanut looks like a marshmallow and is used as a cushioning void filler to protect fragile items during shipment.
Source: BlueRose Packaging

10 Reasons to use (or not use) biodegradable packing peanuts

Amazon alone ships over 7 billion packages every year. Those packages are mostly made out of plastic and cardboard and are non-biodegradable. 

One of the biggest benefits of biodegradable packing peanuts is that they break down easily without harming wildlife. However, they’re not that widely produced yet so they can be more expensive than traditional packing peanuts. Here are a few more pros and cons.

Advantages of biodegradable packing peanuts

  1. Starch-based packing peanuts are dissolvable in water. Unlike polystyrene peanuts, these generate zero toxic waste. 
  2. Biodegradable packing noodles are non-toxic, which means that there’s no risk if an animal or a person eats them by accident. 
  3. They can be used as compost. You can place the peanuts in flower beds and water them to help grow more oxygen-producing plants.
  4. It’s easy to dispose of them. You only need to put them in the sink and add water. Foam peanuts require additional plastic (like a bag) to throw them away and will then take millions of years to break down.
  5. Since biodegradable packing peanuts are made out of natural materials, the production process is also cleaner as it generates fewer greenhouse gasses (i.e. carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor).

Biodegradable packing peanuts can be dissolved in water or composted.
Source: Michael Casagrande on Youtube

Disadvantages of biodegradable packing peanuts

  1. Depending on the supplier, biodegradable peanuts can be almost twice as heavy as plastic ones,* which may increase shipping costs.
  2. Non-plastic packing noodles are more expensive than styrofoam ones, making them the least appealing option to cost-driven businesses.
  3. Biodegradable packing peanuts are also more fragile, meaning some of them may break during shipping and generate dust.
  4. Since cornstarch packing peanuts are dissolvable in water, they can make the package sticky if it rains or they’re stored in humid rooms. There are some brands like RENATURE® that make water-repellent ones out of other recycled materials, but they’re not as common as cornstarch and can be harder to find.

*How do we know? Well, we compared the weight per cu. ft. of three different biodegradable vs. non-biodegradable brands. The non-biodegradable ones are around 0.25 lbs per cu. ft., while the biodegradable ones are 0.45 lbs per cu. ft. 

Best biodegradable packing peanuts (and alternatives)

Styrofoam packing peanuts are still pretty common, so it’s not easy to find biodegradable alternatives. To get you started, here’s a list of top-rated biodegradable packing peanuts and alternative green packing options on the market. 

1. BlueRose biodegradable packing peanuts

BlueRose Packaging offers odor-free biodegradable packing peanuts in bulk. These are made from non-toxic packaging materials and are decomposable after disposal. The price per cubic foot is only available by custom quote.

What do the reviews say?

BlueRose customers value that they’re a reliable supplier and that shipping is always on time. “We have zero hassles in sourcing shipping and packaging supplies,” explained Sophie Belmore. “We are able to save a lot of time and also a lot of money with the help of this dependable supplier. They have a very responsive customer service team and they always deliver the orders on time.”

2. Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

U-Haul has its own brand of biodegradable packing peanuts that are 100% dissolvable and non-toxic. By changing their styrofoam peanuts for eco-friendly ones, they’ve helped keep over 7.7 million cu. ft. of this type of plastic off of landfills. That’s 600,000 cubic feet per year. Each bag comes with 1.5 cu. ft. and costs $5.95. 

What do the reviews say?

Customers who have tried these peanuts found they offered good value and met their expectations. “Awesome product. Totally worth my money and fulfilled my expectations when shipping orders for my shop. 11/10 would recommend,” said Biance A.

3. RENATURE® Biodegradable Loose Fill

These packing peanuts are eco- and fragile-friendly. TheBoxGuy is one of the only brands that makes water-repellent packing peanuts, so they won’t shrink in humid environments. Plus, the 14 cu. ft. bag is sold for $35.57 ($2.54 per cubic foot), so it’s one of the least expensive brands on the market.

What do the reviews say?

Clients like TheBoxGuy because of their low prices and highly responsive support. “We compared prices to other suppliers and The Box Guy was about 25% less,” said Miranda March. “We received the order in 48 hours and it was exactly what we needed. Plus their customer service is stellar.

4. Generic biodegradable packing peanuts made of vegetable starch

Based on more than 90 reviews, this seller has a rating score of 4.3/5 on Amazon. However, some customers said this product has a strong popcorn smell. This product comes in two bags of 1.5 cu. ft. each and costs $25.99 ($8.66 per cu. ft.).

What do the reviews say?

People who have bought these peanuts appreciate the price-value relationship. “I do a ton of shipping for my business and I’m always in need of packing peanuts,” wrote Amazon user, Euclides Lugo Jr. “Getting them from other shipping suppliers has been overly expensive. I’m very happy with the quality and price of these and also the fast shipping on the seller’s part.”

5. Biodegradable loose void fill packing peanuts

These Etsy packing peanuts are made of starch and recycled materials which makes them biodegradable and compostable. They come in bags from 1.5 to 5 cu. ft. The price per cubic foot varies between $5.22-5.54 depending on the size of the bag.

What do the reviews say?

Customers love the fast delivery and versatility. Fast delivery. Perfect void filler for small, big, single or multiple items,” shared Etsy user, Kit.

6. Lorimar biodegradable peanuts made of vegetable starch

These biodegradable packing peanuts are also available on Amazon. They’re made of cornstarch and come in a bag of 7 cubic feet. This supplier offers two-day shipping and the bag costs $46.99 ($6.71 per cubic foot).

What do the reviews say?

Customers like Lorimar because the peanuts are truly biodegradable and work as compost. “I used them for my move. When I was done moving, I placed them in my garden,” shared Amazon user, S.A.Tech. “When it rained, it dissolved and ended up being compost. It’s great for reuse. I was really surprised at how great this product works.”

Other biodegradable packing ideas and brands

Everything you need for packing a product can be replaced with an eco-friendly solution. Just check out these brands.

Cocoform

Hen’s eggs in cocoform biodegradable packaging by Enkev
Enkev makes sustainable packaging alternatives out of coconut fibers. 
Source: Enkev.com

Cocoform is tailor-made natural packing that’s 100% biodegradable since it’s made out of coconut fibers. It’s a super durable material that can be reused multiple times before naturally decomposing. You can get cocoform from Enkev, a company focused on natural ingredients and recycled materials.

Custom biodegradable packaging

Soraway Packaging compostable coffee bags including Kickapoo and ethical bean coffee
Soraway Packaging creates custom biodegradable packaging per request using 100% plant-based materials.
Source: eco-degradable.com

Soaraway Packaging makes custom biodegradable materials like compostable bags, Polylactic Acid (PLA) film, or compostable cutlery. Soraway has been making biodegradable custom packaging for 12 years and uses plant-based materials. 

Sustainable packing solutions

Glass jar protected by Ecoenclose corrugated bubble eco-friendly packaging
Wrapping bubbles can also be eco-friendly. EcoEnclose sells biodegradable corrugated bubble wraps to protect your fragile products. 
Source: EcoEnclose.com

EcoEnclose is an eco-friendly packaging company that creates green wrappers, bags, and shipping accessories that are 100% biodegradable. They make their products out of recycled materials. They also have custom packaging options available.

Packing peanuts best practices

If you’re using biodegradable packing peanuts for the first time, you should follow these best practices to use, store, and dispose of them properly.

Add more when packing heavy products

Since cornstarch packing peanuts are a bit less resistant, heavier products can break them down. To ensure your product gets delivered in perfect condition, you should use more biodegradable packing nuts than you’d use if they were made out of styrofoam. 

Don’t store them in hot or humid spaces

Unless you’ve purchased water-repellent eco-friendly packing peanuts, you shouldn’t store them in humid places as they might get wet, dissolve, and damage the product they’re supposed to protect.

Let customers know how to get rid of them

If you’re using biodegradable packing materials, you should let your customers know. That way, they can properly dissolve the cornstarch peanuts using water and add the resulting liquid to a compost pile. 

Use them to pack electronics or clothing

Some products, like electronics, require static-free packaging. Unlike polystyrene packing peanuts, biodegradable ones don’t have an electrostatic charge. Also, these eco-friendly void fillers don’t stick to clothing either.

Other ways to make your shipping more eco-friendly

If you want to implement greener alternatives in your supply chain, you should consider these eco-friendly shipping options:

  • Use recycled and biodegradable packing materials.
  • Reduce water and plastic usage as much as possible. 
  • Go paperless and send invoices via email. 
  • Use the correct size of shipping boxes and bags.
  • Bring shipping in-house, so you have more control over how it’s done. Or sign up for eco-friendly solutions with companies like FedEx, UPS, and USPS. 
  • Optimize your shipping routes and compile the orders to reduce the number of daily shipping.
  • If possible, don’t use gas-operated vehicles. Instead, try using bicycles or electric cars to deliver your products.
  • Work with a shipping company like Route that offsets the carbon footprint with a reforestation project (more on this below). 

Go for carbon-neutral shipping with Route

It’s not easy to change your operations, invest in sustainability, and become 100% eco-friendly. But for an easy way to start, you can pair your biodegradable packing efforts with carbon-neutral shipping. 

Route makes the post-purchase experience a green one. We have an afforestation project in place to neutralize your carbon shipping emission when customers choose “Green Package Protection” at checkout. Carbon-neutral shipping is included with shipping insurance for your customers in case their packages are lost, damaged, or stolen.

Route Green Package Protection stats on planted trees, jobs created, and species protected.
Route helps you care for your customers’ parcels and offset your carbon emissions without lifting a finger.

Partner with Route to offset your carbon emissions while protecting your shipments from loss, theft, or damage.

Biodegradable packing peanuts: The only way to go green?

Businesses of all shapes and sizes should take climate action to reduce their carbon footprint. There are different ways to do it:

  • Using biodegradable packing peanuts and other green wrapping options
  • Shipping your products with eco-friendly delivery companies
  • Optimizing your shipping routes
  • Partnering up with companies like Route that neutralize carbon emissions

Going green with your business can have a bigger impact on climate change that you believe. In fact, just by changing your packing peanuts to biodegradable ones, you can save the world 500 years of non-degradable waste. 

Offer  Route’s “Green Package Protection” to empower your customers to take climate action with just one click. For every package protected against loss, theft, or damage, we offset your carbon emissions so you can protect the planet and your parcels all at once.

Frequently asked questions about biodegradable packing peanuts

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