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Bubble wrap rolls. Bubble wrap mailers. Large bubble wrap. Small bubble bags. Over 240,000 miles of bubble wrap are produced in the UK every year. Yet, despite its popularity, there remains considerable confusion over whether bubble wrap can be recycled.

The good news is that you can recycle bubble wrap. But it’s not always as simple as popping it into the recycling bin. This article tackles the myths surrounding bubble wrap recycling, explores how we can recycle it responsibly, and offers a couple of more eco-conscious alternatives as well.

What is Bubble Wrap made from?

Bubble wrap is made from thin, soft plastic called #4 low-density polyethene film (LDPE). To understand more about plastic resin identification codes, read this article.

Bubble wrap is made by heating resin beads until they blend together to form a single sheet of film. The plastic films are rolled flat, forming the base material for bubble wrap. Rollers punch small holes into the flattened plastic, followed by a vacuum that fills the holes with air. This creates a unique small or large bubble design.

A second layer of plastic film seals the bubbles. Finally, the bubble wrap is cut and rolled.

Why is Bubble Wrap Used?

Commerical Bubble Wrap

From large bubble rolls to small bubble wrap bags, bubble wrap is extraordinarily good at protecting fragile items. Whether it's needed for storage, packaging or protection, the air-filled bubble design ensures that items in transit are safely delivered to customers.

Anti-static bubble wrap is even available on the market. This type of bubble wrap includes a special bubble additive that prevents static electricity from building up, ensuring electrical products are fully protected during transportation.

Bubble wrap has been a staple ingredient across multiple industries:

  • ​Engineering and Automotive
  • Pharmaceutical and biomedical
  • Food and beverage
  • Home care and cosmetics

However, the reliance on bubble wrap is causing havoc to the environment.

Is Bubble Wrap Recyclable?

The good news is that bubble wrap is 100 per cent recyclable. However, it is essential to check with your local council to see if it can be thrown into the recycling bin.

Bubble wrap is made from the same plastic as clingfilm and plastic bags. This thin, flexible, strong plastic can be tricky for standard recycling facilities to handle as it can easily get caught in machines, leading to damaged equipment.

The best way to recycle bubble wrap is to dispose of it through a waste disposal company that can effectively and properly sort it.

How to Recycle Bubble Wrap

At a residential level, first, check with your local council to see what types of bags and plastic film they recycle. If they cannot recycle bubble wrap, the next best option is to visit your nearest large supermarket.

Most supermarkets now offer in-store soft plastic collection points. Since the in-store collection points launched in 2021, Sainsbury’s reports collecting 18 tonnes a month of plastic waste from customers.

At a business level, companies can partner with waste and recycling facilities, like Waste Mission, to ensure full accountability for bubble wrap recycling.

At Waste Mission, we provide waste balers that can store large amounts of plastic while taking up minimum space. These balers are then easily collected and transported to our recycling facilities, where they are recycled through specialised processes.

Reducing Contamination

It’s important to note that whether you’re recycling on a residential or business level if your bubble wrap is attached to other materials, the individual items must be separated to prevent contamination. For example, a bubble wrap mailer contains paper or card, lined with bubble wrap, and covered with a few postal stickers. Each of these items needs to be removed, and the individual materials recycled separately.

Is Bubble Wrap a Threat to the Environment?

Over 11 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in our oceans every year. 46% of that waste is low-density polyethene film, plastic bags, clingfilm, and bubble wrap. Although this type of plastic is recyclable, figures show that only 9% actually reach the correct facilities to be recycled.

Bubble wrap, in particular, can cause a wide range of threats to the environment if it is not disposed of correctly, such as:

  1. Leaching toxins into the soil and water supply as it breaks down.
  2. Clogging up landfills causes a barrier between the natural bacteria process that helps the contents break down.
  3. Releasing chemicals into the air when burned in an incinerator.

With the growing awareness of the adverse effects plastics have on the ecosystem, it is now more important than ever for businesses to ensure that as much plastic is recycled as possible, and also explore alternative materials.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Bubble Wrap

From paper bubble wrap to compostable mailers, these are some of the top eco-friendly alternatives to traditional bubble wrap on the market:

  1. Paper bubble wrap. This paper bubble wrap, which is made from recycled materials, is completely biodegradable, keeping with the bubble theme.
  2. Hivewrap. Strong and flexible, this plastic-free alternative is 100 per cent recyclable and biodegradable.
  3. Compostable mailer. Stronger than traditional plastic mailers and able to break down in a domestic compost bin within 180 days.
  4. FunPak packing peanuts. These packing peanuts dissolve when soaked in water; they’re light and durable.


At Waste Mission, we are committed to helping companies embrace a more circular economy, exploring ways to remove waste and pollution, conserve raw materials and rebuild and restore ecosystems. Help us in building a future a few shades greener, and ensure that as much bubble wrap as possible is recycled and doesn’t just end up in landfill.

We would love to work with you to understand your unique and complex waste streams and offer a bespoke, tailored service with a single-supplier solution – book a waste review today.