Guide to Recyclables — Plastic Packaging Materials

Manufacturers use a lot use a lot of plastic packaging materials to protect their products during transit until they reach your home.  These run the gamut from peanuts, to bubble wrap to hard polystyrene protection.   They do a great job because they are cost effective, being lightweight as well as relatively inexpensive.  But unfortunately, many of these plastics are not accepted in most standard curbside recycling programs.  However, with some effort, you can donate your packing for either REUSE or RECYCLING.  This page provides information on how you can do that.


Many types of packaging materials are made from polystyrene, the number six in the chasing arrows recycling symbol.  These include packaging peanuts, the blocks protecting products in their cartons, supermarket containers such as those that contain fruits, vegetables, eggs or meats.

There is not much you can do to REDUCE your use of packaging materials – most items that you purchase come heavily protected by them.  However, with some effort, you can RECYCLE them by dropping them off at companies that will reuse them.

Packaging Peanuts

Packing peanuts are made of expanded polystyrene, also known as EPS or plastic #6.  Shipping companies such as UPS and Mailboxes, Etc. will accept packaging peanuts for REUSE for future shipping protection.  To find the nearest facility that will accept these materials check the Peanut Hotline at 800-828-2214 or, a national reuse program for plastic packing peanuts . Consumers can drop off their leftover plastic packing peanuts at Peanut Hotline collection sites.  There are over 1,500 collection sites in the US.

Mercer County Sites

Pak Mail
319 Route 130N
East Windsor, NJ  08520
Phone: 609-443-6245
Hours:  Mon – Fri  9am – 6pm  | Sat  10am – 4pm

Popcorn Packers Postal & Shipping Ctr.
25 Route 31 South
Pennington Shopping Center
Pennington , NJ  08534
Phone: 609-737-7300
Hours:  Mon – Fri 10am – 6:30pm  |  Sat 1-am – 2:30pm

The UPS Store
1977 North Olden Ave Ext (Glendale Village Shopping Center)
Ewing, NJ 08618
Phone: 609-530-1010
Hours: Mon – Fri  8:00 am – 6:30 pm | Sat 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Details: accepts CLEAN packing peanuts as well as INFLATED plastic air pillows for reuse.  Materials accepted during hours of operation.

The UPS Store
800 Denow Rd.
Pennington, NJ 08534
Phone: 609-737-3800
Hours: Mon – Fri 8:30am – 7pm  |  Sat  9:30 am – 3:30pm

The UPS Store
957 Route 33
Hamilton Square, NJ 08690
Phone 609- 584-1011
Hours:  Mon – Fri 8:30am – 6:30pm  |  Sat  9am – 5pm

The UPS Store
3817 Crosswicks Hamilton Square Road
Hamilton, NJ 08691
Phone: 609-581-6700
Hours: Mon – Fri 8:30 am – 6:30 pm |  Sat  8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Details:  Requests that the peanuts be dropped off in plastic bags and not corrugated boxes.

Some Info from the Plastic Loose Fill Council
  • Over 30% of all EPS loose fill is reused.
  • The minimum recycled content in EPS loose fill is 25%.
  • Collection centers report that, on average, 50% of their loose fill needs are met with reusable loose fill donated by consumers.

Source: Environmental Questions page from the Plastic Loose Fill Council

It is much harder to find local resource to recycle your hard polystyrene packaging, the kind that surrounds your computer or TV in its box.  The EPS Industry Alliance maintains a list of companies that accept polystyrene for recycling at their Find a Location page.  The closest location in NJ that accepts the hard polystyrene for drop off is:

Riemschneider Recycling & Plastics
117 Tenth Ave.
Toms River, NJ 08757
United States
Phone: 732-736-0337

The closest location in PA that accepts the hard polystyrene for drop off is:

Raybob Packaging, Inc.
PP-6 River Rd.
Tullytown, PA 19007
Phone:  Tel: (215) 943-4799
Hours: Mon-Fri 8 am – 4 pm

The best way to collect this type of material might be to run a plastic collection drive periodically to deliver to their location.  FYI, all materials should be clean and free from staples, tape or labels etc.

Bubble Wrap

What is it?

Bubble wrap is made from thin layers of a particular grade of polyethylene plastic known as “film.”  Sheets of plastic are laid on top of each other, air is blown between them, and they are fused together.  It is a very intriguing product and many of us find it very satisfying to pop the bubbles.  However, if you would like to REUSE this product, popping the bubbles reduces its effectiveness and shipping companies like UPS stores and Mail Boxes, Etc. will not accept them.


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