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In those envelopes paper is often glued pretty well to bubble wrap portion, making it hard to separate. On top of that bubble wrap itself is seldom recycled - for example in my area of Ontario, Canada it does not qualify for curb-side pick up of recyclables.

Are there any environmentally friendly ways to dispose of those? I would not buy them, but when you order online, usually you do not have a choice on how the merchandise will be packed.

14

Not an exact answer to what you're asking, but:

Re-use them!

Re-using is almost always better than recycling, since recycling isn't 'free' (it still takes energy).

They take up little space, you can save them for years, you don't have to go to the post-office when you do need them, and it saves you some money!

  • 2
    Yeah, I suppose if you open them carefully, and then cover up old address labels, those could be reused - at least few times before they disintegrate. – Sebastian K Mar 11 '15 at 0:16
  • 2
    I re-use mine all the time. I keep them in a pile somewhere and every time I have to mail something, I use them. Just peel off the old stickers. – lemontwist Mar 22 '15 at 14:50
  • I have given up collecting them as they arrive far faster than I need them. – PJTraill Jul 5 '18 at 13:23
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1. Try to reuse

Reuse is always better than recycling or disposal because it 1) saves energy that is needed for the recycling process and 2) saves energy and materials for manufacturing and transporting new envelopes.

Besides relabeling and resending you can also reuse the envelopes for other purposes, for example as knee pads for gardening work. If you have lots of envelopes you can give them away to friends and family or on websites like freecycle.org.

2. Check with your local recycling facility

I've heard that there are a few recycling companies that accept paper/plastic-composite materials. Although they seem to be very rare, it doesn't hurt to check this first. While you are at it also check which types of plastic your local recycling facility accepts (for the next step).

3. Try to separate the paper and plastic

You mentioned it's impossible to separate the paper and plastic in your case and for some types of envelopes this is very true, but sometimes cutting the envelope open first with a scissor gives you better access to the bubble wrap allowing you to separate it after all. However separating only makes sense if you can recycle the paper and/or plastic.

If you can separate but the plastic isn't of a type that is recycled by your local recycling company, you can try upcycling plastics by melting them into something else (see also Fusing plastic bags). Be careful when you do this, because melting plastics may release toxic fumes!

4. Check with the envelope manufacturer/sender

If you can't separate the paper and plastic of if you can't find out what kind of plastic was used (most likely it's LDPE), contact the envelope manufacturer. They may be able to provide you with this information or with alternative recycling options. If the manufacturer has no good recycling options urge them to become more environmentally aware. You can also contact the envelope sender and ask them to start using recyclable bubble mailers.

0

I say go back to mailing envelopes of heavy brown paper, like the used paper bags in the Super markets. Why did this plastic bubble inside and outside take the front runner as protecting the contents? Let's pack our mailings with extra newspaper (that is biodegradable).

  • Quite so, but that is not what the question is about: what do you do when you get something in one of these envelopes? – PJTraill Jul 5 '18 at 13:25

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