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Paper, Recycled Plastic, or Bioplastic? 3 Protective Packaging Options

These sustainable, inflate-on-demand air cushioning and void-fill product options range from 100% recyclable paper to home-compostable bioplastics to PCR plastic.

The growth in ecommerce that accelerated during the pandemic also boosted demand for protective packaging. That rising tide lifted sales of air cushioning products, the global market of which is poised to grow by $1.25 billion over the period 2021-2025, according to a market report released in May with summary graphic below. That represents a CAGR of more than 8% during the forecast period.

TechnavioGlobal-Air-Cushioning-Market-IRTNTR44036.jpg

With growth comes opportunity and that means more options for brands and other users of air cushions from suppliers like IDL Packaging. Lev Girshfeld, the company’s product manager, says that “due to the massive surge of online purchasing in 2020 and the consumer perspective on wasteful packaging, there has been a sudden increase in the interest and demand for our compostable, biodegradable, and climate-neutral air cushions.”

The supplier offers a trio of diverse, on-trend sustainable packaging options — BioWave, PaperWave, and ClimaWave, the latter of which offers a carbon offset option for customers.

The products are supplied in roll appropriately sized for the application, according to Girshfeld, product manager of the San Jose, CA, company. “The most popular option has been the standard filler option for the PaperWave, which is a standard 4-inch by 8-inch air-cushion size. We offer a variety of other sizes and film types sized for void-fill or for protective cushioning. Void-fill options range from small 4-inch x 8-inch pillows up to 10-inch by 8-inch pillows. For protective packaging applications, we offer bubble-film sizes of 15-inch by 6-inch with four or eight chambers.”

Inflationary benefits.

Have you wondered about the benefits of air-filled protection versus loose fill and other options? We did, and asked Girshfeld directly; he cited the following advantages of air cushions:

  • Air cushions are lighter and therefore more cost-effective for shipping;
  • The impact absorption of air cushions is far superior to crumpled paper;
  • Air cushions are more durable and better withstand parcel movement;
  • There is reduced packaging waste because air cushions are 99% air and 1% cushion structure;
  • Because air cushions are made on-demand, the storage/warehouse space requirements are far less than other options including “peanut” materials, prefilled air-and-film wraps, and paper.

As importantly, the BioWave, ClimaWave, and PaperWave line of AirWave products are highly sustainable as detailed in the following slideshow gallery. IDL Packaging also provides the inflating machine, an example of which appears at the end of the gallery.

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