Packaging materials are used for the containment, handling, protection, delivery, and presentation of products. [174] Packaging has several objectives which include physical protection, barrier protection, containment, marketing, security, and convenience of handling the product. As physical protection, packaging protects the product from mechanical shock, vibration, compression, electrostatic discharge, etc. As barrier protection, packaging protects the product from dust, oxygen, water vapor, and other factors that can cause product damage. As containment, packaging make it very efficient to group small objects together. For security purposes, packaging protects the product from package pilferage and tampering. The packaging can also be used for marketing the product inside it through the use of graphic design and marketing communications. Finally, packaging simply adds convenience in distributing, handling, stacking, displaying, opening, reclosing, dispensing, using, and reusing the product. [175]

Although product packaging has a lot of benefits, it may not give any benefit to the environment. People usually throw away packaging materials in the trash can and end up in landfills. An average dump, according to the National Recycling Coalition, is composed of one-third packaging materials which include plastic, cardboard, and expanded polystyrene or styrofoam. Do you know that 10 percent of the purchase price of a product and 65 percent of the household trash represent the packaging material? Surprisingly, about 150,000 tons of packaging material is thrown away by Americans daily, according to the Air and Waste Management Association. This large volume of waste ends up in landfills, which are getting difficult and expensive to manage. Packaging materials can be recycled and recycling them will help us protect the environment and save energy and raw materials. [176]If you believe in the environmental cause of recycling, you should recycle your packaging materials. Here are some ways to recycle packaging materials:

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When you receive a package, open it without destroying the packaging material. You can reuse the packaging materials when sending out a package to someone else especially during the holidays. You can also use the packaging box as a recycling box, moving out box, or storage box for things you don't use anymore. You can use the bubble wraps to cover the windows during winter to keep you warm and to protect your plants outside during the same season. You can also reuse the bubble wraps to wrap gifts and keep drinks cool when they come out of the fridge. You save money and help the environment when you recycle packaging materials. Allot a space in your home and office where you can store or pile up packaging materials for future use. If you have too much packaging materials to handle, you can do the next recycling tip. [177]


If you regularly receive packages, packaging materials pile up in your home or office until you cannot handle them anymore. If you are thinking of throwing the excess away, stop and think for an environment friendly solution. Why not share the packaging materials to your family members, relatives, friends, neighbors, etc. If this doesn't work in disposing some of the packaging materials stored in your house or office, the next recycling solution may help.[177]

Recycling Programs

Check out if your municipal recycling program accepts packaging boxes for recycling. Also ask your local waste division about their drop-off facilities that accept cardboard boxes. Prior to recycling, you need to break down the boxes and fold them flat. Also remove plastics, masking tapes, or other items that act as contaminants during processing of the boxes. Pile the flat boxes up and tie them with string or twine for easy handling and transporting. [178]

The packaging material expanded polystyrene (abbreviated as EPS or EPF) foam can be recycled to produce concrete, office products, egg cartons, garbage cans, foam insulation, and other useful items. You can recycle EPS with the help of the Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers. Visit their website ( or call them at 1-800-944-8448 to learn the nearest EPS drop off recycling location.[176]

You can send the bubble wraps to the local mailing centers including the UPS and Fed-Ex who will accept and reuse the wraps. [178]

Besides cardboard, styrofoam, and bubble wraps, there may be other packaging materials in your package that can be reused and recycled. Don't throw them away until you research on ways on how to dispose them in an environment friendly manner.