Business

Published on October 11th, 2008 | by Justin Van Kleeck

7

Bubbla Air-Inflated Packaging: A Safer, Greener Way to Ship

Foam peanuts are the Devil. Evil incarnate. Darkness made visible. Senseless brutal waste embodied in a horde of impish, malevolent, noxious, toxic minions spilling out of boxes, bags, closets, basements, attics, trashcans, landfills. A wicked wind is blowing, and those infernal foam peanuts are riding it across the land, across the sea, across the Earth. They cannot die; they may be eternal.

Okay, so maybe foam peanuts and the other demons in the legion of packaging materials are not the creations of some sinister mad hatter, some oily oligarch, some short-sighted sorcerer’s apprentice, some wizard hiding in a city that is decidedly not emerald green. Nevertheless, the foam peanuts are steadily spreading with every package sent by air, sea, or ground. And this fact begs the question: Can they be stopped???

Take heart, my fellow Earthlings, for we do have an easy and eco-friendly way to say “YES!” to this question: Bubbla.

Although it may not have the name of a saving knight in shining green armor, Bubbla offers just about anyone–from large businesses shipping countless packages per day to the lone house dweller sending birthday gifts to family–a way to put a stop to the rampaging horde of foam peanuts. (Besides, how silly does “foam peanuts” sound?!)

Bubbla is an “on-demand” air-inflated packaging system produced for over 12 years now by Bubbla, Inc., a company in Canoga Park, California. (Believe it or not, the owner of Bubbla actually invented air-pillow packaging material, and the company owns four patents in this area. Obviously they know their stuff!)

Whenever you need some packaging material, you just make it using either the tabletop or freestanding Bubbla machine, both of which are easy to operate (with touch-screen controls), small (about 25” tall by 15” deep), and can be plugged in to a good old electric wall outlet. The machine quickly cranks out a supply of air-inflated packaging in one design or another (e.g., diamond wrap or long cells) to meet your demand. Make as much as you need, when you need. No fuss, no muss.

Besides being convenient, Bubbla becomes a green knight fighting against the foam-peanut horde because it offers some surprising ecological advantages over most traditional methods and materials of packaging.

First off, it reduces the amount of material used. One ¾ cubic foot roll of Bubbla Film provides the equivalent square footage of nearly two 48” x 250” rolls of bubble cushioning or as much as 250 cubic feet of foam peanuts. That means less petroleum-based materials required to meet your packaging needs.

Secondly, since you keep the “raw” materials on hand with your machine, you avoid having to have the bulky, if light, packaging materials shipped to you. Further, “One truckload of Bubbla,” the company’s website (www.bubbla.com) explains, “equals up to 250 truckloads of foam peanuts and other package wrapping and void fill products.” As a result, Bubbla has a huge impact in reducing fuel use by and CO2 emissions from shipping vehicles.

Thirdly, the Bubbla materials are completely reusable once inflated and recyclable after use (and after some fun stomping by kids of all ages to pop the air bubbles, of course!). Whereas foam peanuts tend to be dumped into a trashcan and sent to the landfill, whence they are freed to roam and terrify, Bubbla can be reused very easily (those peanuts are impossible to gather up and deal with) or recycled. This helps ensure they will stay out of the landfills–or the gutters or the waterways or the wild places.

However much shipping you do in your business and/or personal life, Bubbla can help make your shipping a whole lot greener. Not to mention simpler. Not to mention just plain kinder for the Earth and for those receiving what you send. After all, who wants to open up a box and be attacked, hounded, blitzed, buried by a flying, static-clinging horde of foam peanuts?

Image credit: Foam Peanuts: Alex Fury, via Fschoenm at Wikimedia Commons. Bubbla 6000: Bubbla, Inc..



Tags: , , , , , , ,


About the Author

I am an ethical vegan (since 1999), a writer, an educator, an activist, an organizer, and a vegan-of-all-trades. I have a PhD in English but then left academia to work on social change. I focus on veganism, animal rights, local foods, farming practices, environmentalism, and sustainability--starting from the position that humans are just one part of the biosphere, not the center of it.



  • Rockymtnway

    There’s actually a new generation of packing peanuts made from cellulose that disintegrate when you put them in water.

  • http://www.salazarpackaging.com Dennis Salazar

    I really enjoyed this lighthearted approach to a serious problem. Our company decided some time ago that inflatable products are the best void fill solution but we took it a step further in terms of sustainability by making our Globe Guard product out of 100% recycled content plastic.

    It is inexpensive, very economical to ship inbound as well as outbound, and each pillow is printed with a clear eco message so the recipient recognizes the effort the shipper is making to provide an eco-friendly product.
    http://www.salazarpackaging.com/airpillow.html

    Regarding the new “greener” peanuts that are now available, I think to some degree they help address the eco issue but as a consumer, does anyone really appreciate recieving a box full of foam peanuts regardless of their composition? In our minds, customer friendly is every bit as important as eco-friendly.

    Great article and blog!

    Dennis Salazar
    Salazar Packaging, Inc.
    http://www.salazarpackaging.com

  • http://greenoptions.com/author/jsvk13 Justin Van Kleeck

    Regarding the foam peanuts: green or not, they still are the Devil. A box full of those things will spoil anybody’s day no matter what they are made from! And if you should happen to crush, crumble, or otherwise break one, look out….

  • http://www.green-cd-dvd-duplication.co.uk sam

    Very interesting article as we are trying very hard to find eco/green packaging for our customers. Thanks

  • http://www.PuffyStuff.com This_is_a_great_site

    Its great how saving money and saving the environment can go hand in hand.

    There are “green” packing peanuts made by Puffy Stuff that wont crumble like cornstarch peanuts. They are made from grain proteins, so they act more like memory foam. They are biodegradable, anti-static, and durable.

  • http://www.didgiwidgi.co.uk Art

    ban the peanuts!

  • http://bubbla.com Leo Hartog

    Justin,

    Your kind comments about Bubbla’s environmental contribution are much appreciated.

    · For a small business, Bubbla Inc.™ has invested unprecedented funds into research & development and four U.S. patents for eco-friendly packaging. Our primary goal has been to make a tremendous contribution to bettering our environment.
    · The fact that our designs were so widely mimicked by so many entities is a travesty of justice on one hand, while on the other hand it has had a staggering positive effect on replacing polluting products with non-polluting ones.
    · In the process of producing eco-friendly packaging products over the last decade, most likely tens of millions of gallons of gasoline and diesel have been saved by the simple math that our bubbles take up only 1 to every 250 cubic feet of peanut space on trucks. This only combines with the huge amounts of fluorocarbon saved in shipping and foam packaging production.
    · Regarding the recycled resins used for air-pillows: the only purpose for Bubbla Inc.TM packaging is to cushion our customers’ products in storage and shipment. Alternative recycled film was extensively tested by us and rejected because Bubbla Inc.™, along with having lead the ecological transformation of this field, is committed to provide the best protection for customers’ products. We do not compromise on this.
    · There is no shortage of demand for recycled resin for products that do not need to hold air for indefinite time frames and so are less reliable for long-term storage. So why compromise?
    · Regarding cellulose, corn starch, and grain protein peanuts, we can only say (in Gen. Patton’s words): “Nuts!”
    · Firstly, the rain falling on a box containing these materials or extra humidity will void protection of all products in the box.
    · Secondly, these materials make wonderful food for pests. How would we like rat and mice populations to explode because they can eat the packaging products and then multiply with such plentiful nutrition?

Back to Top ↑