Bubble Wrap vs. Packing Peanuts: Choosing the Right Packaging Material

Bubble Wrap vs. Packing Peanuts: Choosing the Right Packaging Material
Published On:December 2, 2020 Revised On:August 22, 2023

During shipping and transportation, packaging materials are pivotal in ensuring that products reach their destination protected. Packaging safeguards against the rigours of handling, stacking, and jostling that items endure during transit. The suitable packaging materials protect the products within and contribute to the overall efficiency of the logistics process.

When preparing to deliver a product from one place to another, fragile products might need additional protective packaging to avoid damage via transport. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are protective packaging solutions that offer different advantages. This article will compare their properties, applications, environmental impact, and more.

Bubble Wrap and Packing Peanuts

These materials can provide secure packaging due to their distinct characteristics and ability to cushion items effectively. Both the bubble wrap and packing peanuts ensure the safe arrival of goods.

Bubble Wraps are made from layers of plastic film that are sealed together to create a matrix of air-filled bubbles. These air pockets act as a protective barrier, effectively absorbing shocks and impacts during the journey from sender to recipient.

The composition allows the packaging to offer an excellent balance between cushioning and flexibility. Additionally, the availability of different bubble sizes—ranging from small to large—allows for tailored protection based on the fragility of the packaged item. Smaller bubbles provide more surface area for cushioning, while larger bubbles can handle greater forces.

Packing Peanuts are a lightweight material moulded into small, irregularly shaped pieces, creating a resilient cushioning layer within packages. The unique composition enables them to adapt to the shape of the item, effectively minimizing movement and reducing the risk of damage.

Variations include different shapes, such as loose fill and interlocking configurations. The environmental impact of traditional polystyrene Packing Peanuts has led to the development of alternatives, including biodegradable options that aim to reduce the ecological footprint of packaging materials.

Cushioning and Protection

Both materials offer unique strengths in cushioning and protection, with bubble wrap’s ability to conform to shapes and packing peanuts providing a uniform layer of protection.

Bubble wrap’s cushioning comes from the air-filled bubbles that act as shock absorbers. When items are snugly wrapped with the packaging, these air-filled pockets create a protective barrier that absorbs and disperses impact forces, preventing damage to delicate contents. This cushioning effect is particularly effective against drops, bumps, and vibrations during shipping and handling.

Their flexibility enables them to conform to a wide range of shapes and sizes. This versatility allows it to wrap items of various forms, ensuring that every corner and curve is shielded from potential harm. Its ability to wrap around irregularly shaped objects makes it an optimal choice for packaging items that deviate from the standard box shape.

Packing peanuts creates a consistent and comprehensive protective layer within packages. When items are placed within a container filled with these small foam pieces, they become encapsulated by the interlocking peanuts, creating a barrier that reduces movement and absorbs impact. The collective cushioning effect provided by the Packing Peanuts minimizes the risk of collisions and breakage during transit.

However, due to their lightweight nature, they may experience settling and shifting during transportation. This could lead to uneven distribution of cushioning, potentially compromising the level of protection intended. Proper packing techniques and filling density should be considered to mitigate this issue to ensure consistent and reliable cushioning performance.

Ease of Use and Application

Bubble wrap can be easily cut to size, allowing users to tailor the wrapping according to the item’s dimensions. This adaptability ensures that each package is snugly enveloped in a protective layer. Packaging versatility comes into use when packaging items of various shapes and sizes.

Whether it’s delicate glassware, intricate electronics, or oddly shaped collectables, the packaging can be moulded around the item to provide a customized cushioning solution. This adaptability streamlines the packaging process and helps protect the contents from potential harm.

Using the wrap involves unwrapping and disposing of it post-use, maintaining cleanliness. This lightweight option is easily accessible and portable. Recycling, reusability, and biodegradable alternatives contribute to its eco-friendliness. While slightly pricier than packing peanuts, plastic packaging remains cost-effective. Applying them necessitates individually wrapping each item for comparable protection to packing peanuts, requiring additional effort.

Packing peanuts are poured into the empty spaces of a container, forming a cushioning bed for the items. This process creates a protective layer that absorbs impacts and minimizes movement within the package.

However, static cling can sometimes make the peanuts cling to hands, surfaces, or packaged items. This might lead to minor inconveniences during the packing process. Additionally, due to their lightweight nature, they have the potential to create a mess if not handled carefully, especially during unpacking.

Peanuts’ distinct advantage lies in their ability to nestle items within them for comprehensive protection. Similarly, partially filling a box, placing the item centrally, and completing the filling prevents sliding and ensures optimal safeguarding. It’s worth noting that insufficient use of the foam can result in item shifting within the box.

Cost and Efficiency

Bubble Wrap offers a notable advantage in terms of cost-effectiveness as a packaging material. Its affordability makes it an attractive option for businesses and individuals seeking efficient shipment protection. However, it’s important to consider the potential for waste when using them.

Due to its flexible nature and customizable sizing, excess material might be used during wrapping, leading to unnecessary waste. Balancing the desired level of cushioning with efficient usage is key to maximizing both cost savings and resource conservation. Using bubble wrap on demand and inflating only when required with a bubble wrap machine can help reduce storage space and minimise waste.

Peanuts are more cost-effective than bubble wrap and can be reused multiple times. While they provide effective cushioning, their cost can vary based on factors such as the quantity required and the type chosen.

Despite this, they are cost-efficient, especially for larger shipments where their space-filling properties shine. However, it’s essential to acknowledge the potential storage concerns linked to their bulkiness. The need for adequate storage space can impact efficiency, especially for businesses managing larger volumes of packaging materials.


There is no clear winner within both packaging solutions. The choice depends on factors such as the nature of the items being shipped, environmental considerations, ease of use, and personal preferences. As sustainability gains importance in packaging decisions, innovative alternatives continue to emerge, reshaping the landscape of packaging materials.

Whether it’s the air-filled cushioning of bubble wrap or the snug barrier of packing peanuts, the key is to select the right material that ensures the safe and secure journey of goods. At Stream Peak, we provide quality Bubble Wrap and Packing Peanuts. Schedule a complimentary appointment with our packaging engineers to assess your packaging needs and receive recommendations.