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Can the bubble film be recycled?

Every time we move, ship or receive an item, a bubble film will appear. As consumers' preference for online shopping grows, bubble packaging products are increasingly entering our households and waste streams. Instead of throwing your bubble envelope or filler into the trash can, ask yourself: Is the bubble film recyclable?

Short answer: Yes, foam packaging is recyclable. However, knowing exactly how to recycle bubble wrap paper requires some additional steps. Let's learn more.

Can bubble film be recycled?

The bubble film is fully recyclable, but cannot be accepted on the side of the road or with other parts of your home and business recycling.

Your recycling bin may be full of so-called hard plastics: bottles, containers, kettles, etc. These can be recycled on the roadside and are usually classified as Resin Identification Code (RIC) #1 or #2. This number indicates the composition of certain plastics. The harder plastics in the lower number range are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

On the other hand, bubble films are classified as plastic films. Other plastic films include:

In particular, the bubble film is classified under RIC #4, which means that it is made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). Generally, plastics of this type and material should not be recycled on the side of the road.

In fact, plastic film is referred to as a pollutant in the recycling system. This is because soft LDPE such as foam packaging can clog plastic recycling machines-posing a threat to recyclers and their equipment.

After separation from acceptable recyclables (or after causing equipment problems), the plastic film will be sent to a landfill. It is estimated that once it enters the landfill, it may take 10 to 1,000 years for plastic bags to completely decompose.

However, #4 plastic such as bubble film is still recyclable, just in a different way. Plastics such as foam packaging should be combined with other soft plastics and brought to the designated plastic film recycling point.

How to recycle bubble film

The bubble film can be recycled together with other plastic films (such as plastic bags) in the designated recycling bin. These bins usually advertise plastic bag recycling and can be found in most grocery stores.

If your local grocery store, pharmacy, or retailer does not provide plastic bag recycling services, please try the following other options to recycle bubble wrap:


Before trying to recycle it, the foam packaging should be reused. Therefore, before asking "Is the foam wrapper recyclable", ask yourself: "How can I reuse my foam wrapper?"

Keep it away for your next move, shipment, gift wrapping, or travel adventure. In order to reuse your bubble film most effectively, please do not puncture the bubble and store it tightly with other plastic films.

Explore other local recycling options

Your grocery store may not provide a plastic bag recycling station, or if it does, it may cancel its program due to COVID-19 restrictions. If this is the case, please grab your plastic bags, bubble wrap, and other plastic films until you can find an alternative or reopened drop-off location.

At the residential level, find out where the bubble film is recycled through websites such as Earth911 and Plastic Film Recycling. There is a catalog of these resources, you can find any whereabouts of soft plastic in your area. (See below for business owners.)

Cooperation with Rubicon

If you represent a company that produces a large number of plastic film materials (including bubble films), working with waste and recycling companies such as Rubicon® may be the most convenient option for you.

Rubicon aims to make commercial foam packaging recycling more accessible through delivery services, cooperation with local transporters and packers, and the establishment of a simple and effective plastic film recycling program.

Can you recycle bubble mail?

Bubble envelopes and bubble wrap envelopes are lightweight alternatives to cardboard boxes and other bulky mail, and are becoming more and more popular. However, this provides a more intensive recycling process for businesses and consumers.

With bubble mail, individuals can no longer simply disassemble the boxes and throw them into the recycling bin. Instead, consumers must sort their mail by material and determine the appropriate recycling steps. This is essential to avoid sending other recyclable materials to landfills.

Bubble envelopes are recyclable, but unlike cardboard, they cannot be thrown in through curbside recycling.

How to recycle bubble mail

The procedure for recycling bubble mail depends on the type of mail and its constituent materials. If your bubble envelope is strictly composed of plastic film materials, you can combine it with plastic bags, bubble films and other soft plastic films.

Make sure your letters are clean, dry and free of debris, and take steps to remove as many stickers as possible before adding bubble letters to the soft plastic trash pile. Then, you can throw away all the soft plastic garbage at the designated garbage collection station at one time (please refer to the "How to Recycle Foam Wrapping Paper" section above).

Foam packaging recycling: where can companies start?

Knowing how to deal with bubble film is a difficult task, especially for companies or households that produce large amounts of plastic film waste.

Rubicon's plastic recycling solutions are designed to make your life easier. Our strategy is rooted in our mission to eliminate waste, including foam packaging and other plastic films.

At Rubicon, we find suitable recycling solutions for each waste stream in order to avoid as much material in landfills as possible. Our recycling experts at Rubicon work with your organization to build a cost-effective and environmentally friendly bubble packaging recycling solution to ensure you save (or even make money) money and keep recyclable materials away from landfills. Rubicon's full-service products cover other commercial waste streams, including food waste, organic recycling, electronic and hazardous waste, etc.If you have any questions, or if you are interested in learning more about Rubicon's sustainable products, please contact Rubicon's sustainability team directly at, or call (844) 479-1507 Our sales team.

Meredith Leahy is Rubicon's waste transfer manager. To stay ahead of the new global partnerships and cooperation announced by Rubicon, be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, or contact us immediately.

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