wikiHow to Recycle Packing Peanuts

Made of polystyrene, white and pink packing peanuts can take hundreds of years to decompose. They can be a problem for any recipient of a package containing them. The peanuts are lightweight and, thus, easily scatter and blow away. Unless they have been treated against static electricity (the pink ones), they will cling to clothes and other fabrics. Knowing how to recycle packing peanuts is a way you can avoid adding them to landfills or having them accumulate around your home.


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    Insist that companies with which you do business use the biodegradable type of packing peanuts. These green colored peanuts are made from vegetable starches and will dissolve in water. Also ask if your package might be padded with shredded newspaper or other eco-friendly material instead of the packing peanuts.
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    Reuse your packing peanuts. Store them in an old pair of pantyhose to keep them contained and use them when you mail a package.
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    Inquire at businesses that do lots of shipping if they will take your packing peanuts. Moving companies might also agree to take them. Recycling packing peanuts is a way to get them out of your home and make them useful to others.
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    Substitute polystyrene packing peanuts for gravel in the bottom of a planter. They will allow your plant to drain properly and are hidden from view. Because they are very light in weight, they will also make the planter easier to move and lift.
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    Keep your keys from sinking when you are out on the water by threading a few polystyrene packing peanuts through your keychain. They will help keep your keys afloat.
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    Stuff a zippered pillowcase with packing peanuts to make a cushion for your pet. It will provide a lightweight cool place for your pet to rest. You can also use them as fillers for bean bag chairs substitutes.
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    Sew packing peanuts into costumes at Halloween or other holidays. Use them to make a fat belly, rippling muscles, or to stuff a scarecrow. The light weight makes them easy for children to wear.
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    Decorate your Christmas tree with packing peanuts rather than popcorn. You can even strong them together like you would popcorn, and add glitter or color to make them more festive.
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    Insulate an ice chest with a zipper-locked plastic bag filled with packing peanuts. The ice in the cooler will last longer and the contents will stay cold longer. Use a small zip-closure plastic storage bag filled with packing peanuts and ice as a way to keep food cool in a lunch bag.
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    Glue a small magnet to a packing peanut and attach it to your refrigerator. Use a pin to attach notes and lists.
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    Stamp pages of scrapbooks or homemade cards with packing peanuts dipped in paint. Many of the peanuts already resemble letters or you can cut them into shapes.


  • Avoid using packing peanuts for building insulation as they are not treated with flame retardant.
  • Avoid throwing packing peanuts into your garbage can where they will add to the local landfill. Some recycling centers will take them.
  • Avoid eating packing peanuts.

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Categories: Reduce Recycle and Reuse