CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A Charlotte manufacturer is aiming to keep bubble wrap and other plastics out of landfills by collecting them before they are dropped into recycle bins.
FOX 46 had covered stories about the new “Innovation Barn” from Envision Charlotte that will be opening in a couple weeks near the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. The barn is where you can drop off the bubble wrap and air pillows to be recycled by the Sealed Air Corporation.
The process of recycling bubble wrap started at the Sealed Air Corporate Headquarters in West Charlotte.
“We will take the bubble wrap and the air pillows, you grind it essentially into what looks like a paper shredder, but for recyclables,” said Executive Director of Material Lifecycle Innovation, Tiffani Burt.
All types of bubble wrap and air pillows can be collected and shredded, even materials used for stress relief.
“It’s actually easier if they are popped,” said Burt.
Once popped or un-popped bubble wrap is shredded, it’s melted and extruded out through a machine to make new products, including new bubble wrap.
“It goes back through a similar manufacturing process that it did in it’s beginning of life,” said Burt.
So why can’t you just throw air pillows and bubble wrap into a recycling bin?
“The challenge with flexibles, like bubble wrap and like a mailer, is that they get caught in the sortation process at the material recovery facility and cause downtime,” said Burt.
That’s why all flexible’s are collected at store drop-offs, including the Envision Charlotte Innovation Barn, starting later this summer.
Sealed Air partnered with the group following a sustainability panel discussion.
“It was both a way to educate people are what’s recyclable and what’s not but then to get a stream of material we can experiment and innovate with,” said Vice President of Digital Growth/Experience, Jenn Grabenstetter.
Sealed Air says they will take all types of bubble wrap, air pillows, and mailers. It doesn’t have to be ones that are manufactured by them.
Sealed Air has been using an old city bus, called the “Send me on my way” bus, to collect bubble wrap and other recyclables from city offices. To date, Sealed Sir has collected more than 150 pounds of bubble wrap and air pillows to be recycled.