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When it’s time to package a sensitive and fragile item, common sense should tell you that it needs some special protection. Unless you feel like wasting money and making people angry, you definitely need to use some kind of padding when packing or shipping something breakable. However, this decision is not easy for some people.

There are quite a few different types of padding that might be used in a package, but today we are going to concentrate on two of them in particular: Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap. These are easily two of the most popular options, so let’s see how they stack up against one another.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap was invented in 1959 and was originally supposed to be a new kind of wallpaper. While the wallpaper experiment failed, bubble wrap has turned out to be a huge success. Consisting of a plastic sheet covered in air-filled bubbles, bubble wrap provides an easy and versatile solution.

The Pros:

One of the best things about bubble wrap is its versatility. No matter how large, small, or strangely shaped an object might be, it can be wrapped in bubble wrap. In some cases, you might need to pad certain areas more than others, but it is rare to see an item that cannot be protected with bubble wrap.

Bubble wrap, unlike styrofoam, can be recycled. You might not be able to recycle it from home, but you can use any of the bins or locations that are intended for plastic bags. There are some new types of bubble wrap that are made from biodegradable plastics, so these are a good way to minimize the environmental impact of your packaging.

Bubble wrap is available in a wide variety of variants, and each one is suited for special purposes. For instance, if you have ever seen pink bubble wrap, that was probably a piece of anti-static wrap. This stuff is meant to nullify and disperse static electricity, making it a must for the shipment of sensitive electronics.

The Cons:

Bubble wrap does have a few downsides when compared to its rivals. For one thing, bubble wrap tends to be slightly more expensive than styrofoam peanuts, although the difference is not a huge one. Because items have to be firmly wrapped in this substance, you will need a decently large sheet for each one. Add in the cost of tape and the labor of putting it all together, and you’ve got a little bit of an expense on your hands. Again, it’s not a huge difference, but bubble wrap is more expensive than styrofoam peanuts.

Bubble wrap also takes a little bit more work than peanuts. While peanuts can just be thrown in the box, bubble wrap requires someone who is willing to take the time to wrap every item. If you are selling a large number of small items, this kind of thing can be a real pain. Thus, you will probably have to invest just a little more time and work into the use of bubble wrap. As with the price difference, it’s a small one.

Packing Peanuts

Packing Peanuts

Packing peanuts should be familiar to most of you, as they are incredibly common. These have been standard fare in the packaging industry since the 1960s, which means that they have been around for almost as long as bubble wrap. This kind of padding consists of many small styrofoam pieces that are (approximately) shaped like peanuts. We probably don’t have to tell you that there’s no nut inside.

The Pros:

Styrofoam peanuts have become common for one reason above all: They are cheap. While bubble wrap isn’t exactly expensive, styrofoam peanuts are even cheaper than real peanuts. Thus, many companies will use this type of packaging to help keep their costs at a reasonable level.

Another good thing about styrofoam peanuts is the fact that you can customize their protection to some extent. After you have given your container a loose-fill with these things, you might want to pack them down a little bit. Doing so will make for a denser and more compact package. When this is done, items have almost no potential for unwanted movement.

Another good thing about styrofoam peanuts is the fact that they are easy to use. You don’t have to worry about wrapping or rolling, and there is no need to stop and tape up a bunch of bundles. You can simply pour the peanuts into place, pack them down a little bit if desired, tape up the box and send it on its way.

The Cons:

One of the biggest cons of styrofoam peanuts would have to be their inherent messiness. These little peanuts tend to get scattered all over the place, which can often lead to an irritating clean-up process. If an item has been packaged in peanuts, it can be very hard to get the item out of there without dumping the contents on the floor. If the item came with any accessories, people might have to dump the entire box just to make sure they aren’t throwing away something important.

Styrofoam is also a very poor choice from an environmental perspective. You may not think that this factor affects your bottom line, but it affects everyone to one extent or another. Even if you look at things from a pure business perspective, it makes no sense to foul up the world in which you are trying to do business. Doing that would be the equivalent of dumping toxic waste all over your place of business.

Conclusion

It is not our business to tell you which of these items you should choose. Obviously, every person has their needs and priorities, and those will differ for every situation. However, we hope that this short article has given you a head start on your decision. If our information has been helpful to you, please show your appreciation by filling out the contact form.