Sustainable foam options
If your business – or your customers – are asking you to improve sustainability, then recycled and recyclable foam packaging should be a strong consideration.
As well as the environmental benefits these foams offer, GWP’s conversion expertise means you can benefit from genuinely sustainable foam packaging. A team of designers can minimise material use and pack volumes (minimising CO2 emissions) and ensure that your recycled and recyclable foam packaging provides suitable levels of protection for your products.
Recyclable foam packaging
Recyclable foam packaging uses cellulose derived from wood. Individuals can recycle these types of foam in kerbside and standard paper recycling streams. Recyclable wood foams typically use FSC material in their manufacture. Being newly developed products, the Papira® and Fibrease® ranges from Stora Enso are the two options.
Papira® cellulose foam
Recycled foam packaging
Recycled foam packaging typically uses a minimum of 35% recycled content. The proportion of recycled material means it is not subject to the plastic packaging tax. Recycled foam options include Stratocell R and Ethafoam HRC for packaging and Ecozote recycled Plastazote for case inserts.
What is the difference between recycled and recyclable foam?
Recycled foam is a material that uses a proportion of recycled material (typically a minimum of 30%). Recyclable foam is a material that the end user of the product (i.e. packaging) can easily recycle. A foam can be both recycled and recyclable.
What is recycled foam packaging?
Recycled foam packaging is effectively any end caps, inserts and other forms of packaging manufactured using recycled content. Typically, this is waste foam material, with the manufacturer using recycled resin content to create the new material.
Is recycled foam packaging recyclable?
PE foams are classified as low-density polyethylene (LDPE) material and are recyclable in LDPE recycling systems. This includes Sealed Air’s closed-loop recycling program. You can find out more about this at recyclepefoam.com.
Is foam eco-friendly?
Many argue that plastic-based foams are not eco-friendly, mainly because the material is not biodegradable. However, you can recycle it, manufacture it using recycled content and use it to minimise pack sizes. Plastic foams can also reduce damage (resulting in items going to landfill) and CO2 emissions due to less bulk in transit. However, the launch of fully recyclable foams made using wood addresses any concerns.
Do recycled and recyclable foam protect items as well as regular foam?
The Sealed Air recycled foams offer performance equivalent to their non-recycled versions (i.e. Stratocell and Ethafoam). However, it is essential to note that the design of your foam packaging and end caps also plays a significant role in the amount of protection provided. Fibrease recyclable foam also offers high levels of protection if designed and fabricated correctly.
What packaging can be manufactured using recycled foam?
Can foam inserts be made for cases with recycled foam?
More info on recycled and recyclable foam packaging
With sustainability becoming an increasing focus for most businesses, there have been concerns that standard foam materials (such as Ethafoam, Stratocell and Plastzaote) are unsuited to a more environmentally friendly approach.
Whilst many experts argue that foam inserts and packaging such as end caps, trays, and lined boxes can be sustainable if used correctly (minimising damage, material use, transport emissions etc.), there is now an alternative option.
As such, your business can now choose to use recyclable or recycled foam packaging.
Sustainable foam options
Both the Stratocell R and Ethafoam HRC foams contain a high percentage of recycled material. The content can range between 100% and 65% (minimum) pre-consumer recycled resin content, depending on the grade or option chosen.
Although specialist facilities are required, these materials are also fully recyclable, meaning your foam packaging can become part of a sustainable, reusable loop.
There are also several cellulose-based, fully recyclable foams. Fibrease and Papira foams are both recyclable in existing streams for paper, including kerbside collections.
Further environmental advantages
Besides the properties of the foam, it is also critical to use the material correctly. Doing so can provide many additional environmental benefits.
First, minimising transit damage vastly reduces the amount of broken goods that may end up in landfills. In fact, recycled foams offer protection levels equivalent to standard Stratocell and Ethafoam, maintaining performance even after multiple impacts or mishandling.
Second, the nature of the foam – when combined with an expert designer – can also help minimise material use.
This material saving applies to the foam itself, with foam end caps being an excellent example of minimal foam usage whilst maintaining protection. But it also applies to the outer corrugated packaging. Less foam equals smaller outer packs, which use less cardboard. However, smaller outer packaging also means more can be transported in a single lorry load/consignment, reducing CO2 emissions further.
Third, less material also offers benefits for your customers. It makes it easier for them to dispose of or recycle the packaging while implying that your business also takes your environmental responsibilities seriously.
Consumer satisfaction is obviously increased by not taking receipt of damaged items too.
These benefits mean that if you want to reduce your environmental impact but your products require specific levels of protection, recycled and recyclable foam packaging can provide a sensible solution.
Foam packaging experts
With over 25 years of experience as one of the UK’s largest foam converters and manufacturers of foam packaging, GWP can help your business if you want to become more environmentally friendly.
With an expert design team and a modern production facility, GWP can advise and manage a switch to recycled or recyclable foam or other eco-friendly alternatives. These include corrugated cardboard inserts and fittings.
This product range and experience allow you to benefit from genuinely impartial and unbiased advice on the best option for your specific application. You can also get free quotes on any requirement, pre-production samples, and you can source your foam inserts and outer packaging together for improved fit, quality, and cost-effectiveness.
Sound good? Please speak with a friendly, knowledgeable adviser today.