Bubble Wrap or No Bubble Wrap: That is the Question

Posted by Sam Beyaz on

Popping bubble wrap can be one of the best stress relievers in the world. But when it comes to shipping, what are the pros and cons of using the material? What can you pair with bubble wrap to increase its effectiveness? We’ll take a closer look at those questions and more as we debate the use of bubble wrap when shipping.

Bubble Wrap Basics

It’s easy to understand why bubble wrap is so popular. Not only is it fun to pop, but it’s also a great way to protect delicate items from damage during shipping or transport. Invented in 1957 by engineers Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, bubble wrap was initially known as Air Cap. Like Kleenex and Xerox, Bubble Wrap is a brand rather than a generic product. Sealed Air Corporation holds the trademark for Bubble Wrap. Though it was initially used primarily to package IBM computers, the brand is now most commonly found in the food packaging industry. But that hasn’t stopped other companies from developing different types of material we have come to know as bubble wrap. You know what they say — imitation is the best form of flattery.

Bubble Wrap Sizes & Types

Did you know that bubble wrap comes in different sizes? Large size bubble wrap, typically used for packaging and protecting large items like furniture, can have bubbles as large as 1” in diameter. The most common size bubble wrap has air pockets that are 3/8”, though the material also comes with bubbles as small as 1/8” as well. The smaller the bubbles, the less protection against shock, damage, and impact. However, smaller air pockets offer better protection against superficial damage like scratches or dents.

In addition to different sizes, there are various styles of bubble wrap as well: anti-static, temperature-controlled, and FDA-grade bubble wrap are all available depending on your needs. Let’s take a look at the different uses for each.

  • Anti-static bubble wrap: Available in various sizes, anti-static bubble wrap is used for packaging electronics like cell phones, televisions, and computers. The material is designed to reduce the static charge, which protects the chips housed within the electronics. 
  • Temperature-controlled bubble wrap: Temperature-controlled bubble wrap was designed to insulate products from becoming too hot or too cold. It is often used in greenhouses, on windows, and during transportation and shipping of sensitive materials. 
  • FDA-grade bubble wrap: Sending chocolates or fruits is a common gift for corporations, especially around the holidays. It’s up to products like FDA-grade bubble wrap to keep these items safe during transit, while also ensuring that there is no contamination. 

Bubble Wrap for Mailing

In addition to the sheets of bubble wrap we commonly see used during home and office moves, bubble wrap is also widely used as a padding for shipping envelopes such as poly mailers. Poly mailers are traditionally used for packaging and shipping items such as clothing, accessories, or electronics because they are resistant to tears and help protect against dirt, water, and debris. By pairing poly mailers with bubble wrap, you’re adding an additional layer to ensure maximum protection.

Poly mailers are not only lightweight and offer excellent protection against the elements, but they are also flexible to accommodate different shaped items. When paired with bubble wrap, however, poly mailers become more rigid. Bubble wrap poly mailers are perfect for shipping music CDs, books, DVDs, framed photos, jewelry, and other flat items. They can also be used to mail photographs, certificates, or other things that you want to protect from being bent or damaged during transit. You can also wrap them in poly bags before packing for additional protection.

Bubble Wrap Pros & Cons

Using bubble wrap to protect items during shipping is an incredibly practical solution. It’s great for cushioning, conforms to fit any shape, and can be easily held in place with packing tape. Although it’s relatively easy to see why bubble wrap is so popular, let’s take a look at some of the best reasons to choose bubble wrap in packaging.

  • Convenience: Who doesn’t like it when things are easy? The convenience of packing items with bubble wrap is one of the main reasons that it’s so popular. You can choose from a variety of different types of bubble wrap — sheets, envelopes, bags, etc. — and even various sizes to suit whatever your needs are. 
  • Affordability: Another perk of packing and shipping with bubble wrap is its affordability. Not only is it inexpensive to purchase, but it’s also incredibly lightweight so it won’t increase the weight — and therefore cost — of your packages during shipping. 
  • Effective: When you’re selecting the appropriate packing material, the most critical question is, “Does it work?” Bubble wrap offers a highly effective option to protect items against shocks and vibrations caused during transit, as well as from scratches, chips, and even dirt and dust. 

Now that we’ve highlighted the positives of bubble wrap, what are the cons?

  • Environmental concerns: Traditionally, bubble wrap is made from plastic, which is not biodegradable. Unfortunately, we have learned that many types of plastic are hard to recycle, or that people don’t know how or where to recycle them. 
  • Not on brand: Although it doesn’t matter during a home move, being able to personalize your shipping products can be a significant perk for brands. Bubble wrap doesn’t offer any options for personalization, which is something to consider if that is a goal of yours. 
  • Timeliness: Even though bubble wrap can be convenient, it can also be time-consuming to cut and tape the material around all of your items. If you’re aiming for the most efficient packing process possible, bubble wrap may not be your best bet.  

Perfect Pairs

If you’re looking for protection from moisture and dirt but don’t need the comprehensive support of poly mailers, poly bags may be the best option. Poly bags have many of the same features as poly mailers, but are slightly less thick and are often clear rather than colored or printed. By choosing poly bags, you’re protecting your merchandise against water, dirt, weather, and moisture while still being able to see what’s stored inside. Since poly bags are available in a variety of sizes, customers can easily package items for sale, organize packaged materials, and protect items during storage or transport. 

Whether you’re looking for poly mailers, warning labels, or a variety of clear poly bags, Shop4Mailers has everything you need for mail supplies. Browse the Shop4Mailers website or call 714-891-1313 to see our complete selection of products.