Are Packing Peanuts Recyclable?

What are packing peanuts made of?

Polystyrene-based packing peanuts were invented in 1965 and have been used ever since…and can be used over and over again.  Packing peanuts were originally made of foam, but since the 1990s there have been more “green” ingredients used such as corn or grain sorghum.

Ever since the early 1990s, cornstarch has been increasingly used to form packing peanuts. These are more environmentally friendly as they can be dissolved in water. They are also non-toxic to humans and pets if accidentally ingested. The main drawback to these packing peanuts though is that they are about twice as heavy, not as resilient, and cost a bit more.

How do you know, at a glance, what type of packing peanuts you have?

  • "Green Packing Peanuts = 70% or more recycled polystyrene
  • White Packing Peanuts = 70% or more non-recycled polystyrene
  • Pink Packing Peanuts = anti-static has been applied"

Are Packing Peanuts Recyclable?

Polystyrene packing peanuts are only recyclable at recycling centers that have processes in place to accommodate such material and buyers for it after it is baled.  Borden is unable to process this type of material and, therefore, unable to accept them in Single Stream recycling.  Also, since packing peanuts are extremely small by material standards, they are very difficult to bale or keep packed inside a bale of other Polystyrene products.

To be sure, call your local recycling center to see if packing peanuts are an item they accept.

For more information on recyclable items visit