Keeping packing peanuts out of landfills

We can agree that plastic packing peanuts are best avoided, who actually seeks them out? Indeed, they seek us in the goods we order or gifts we receive.

We get many at work, and they’re not recyclable through the usual waste streams. But shipping companies will sometimes take them and reuse them.

The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a zip code based finder for places that will take packing peanuts, but even in D.C. none were close enough to justify the effort, when work time is considered. (I try only to model behavior a reasonable person would imitate.)

But since I saw the D.C. participants were USP Stores, I called the closest one and even though they weren’t on the list, they gladly accepted them.

A note on my workflow: I test packing peanuts with a drop of water. The still-rare starch-based ones get sticky and dissolve and so I dispose of them in the breakroom sink. best not to mix the kinds in case the plastic reaches an area where they really can be recycled.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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