Can You Recycle Air Pillows? (Don’t Make These Mistakes)

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Jean Richardson

Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

Air pillows are the new bubble wrap. They can protect items that you are shipping, safeguarding them from mishandling or accidental dropping. Furthermore, by providing a thick cushion around your fragile items, they protect them in a way bubble wrap cannot.

However, once you have used air pillows or received goods shipped with them, what do you do? Can you recycle air pillows? Continue reading to find out this answer and more!

Can You Recycle Air Pillows?

Air pillows can be recycled, however, it may require some extra effort as air pillows are not usually accepted by curbside recycling. Furthermore, air pillows can also be reused before being recycled. For example, if still intact, you can take them to your local post office or shipping stores for them to be reused in new shipments. 

Continue reading for more information on how to properly recycle your air pillows and more! 

How To Recycle Air Pillows

Unlike some items, recycling air pillows is not a straightforward process as most waste disposal companies will not accept this product. 

However, it is neither a difficult process as you just simply need to understand the steps involved and do a little research to find the facility that will accept and recycle air pillows.

Furthermore, no matter what facility or drop-off point that you go with to recycle air pillows (which this article will discuss later on), you will always need to do these steps:

  • Poke or tear a hole in the air pillow
  • Deflate them

Moreover, to be recycled and handled properly, air pillows need to be deflated. 

Where Can You Recycle Air Pillows?

There are a couple of resources available to you to help you find a place to drop off your air pillows once they have been properly deflated:

  • Plastic Film Recycling Drop-off Directory created by the American Chemistry Council
  • Air Pillow Manufacturer Recycling Programs
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Fortunately, these two resources are extremely handy when it comes to locating places for you to drop off your air pillows. 

Use The Drop-off Directory

The first thing you can do is check with your local grocery store, as sometimes they provide drop-off points to recycle this material.

Additionally, thanks to the American Chemistry Council’s website Plastic Film Recycling, you can easily search for a drop-off close to you.

Furthermore, by simply typing your zip code into the search bar you can find a drop-off point near you.

Check With The Air Pillow’s Manufacturer

Also, companies that manufacture air pillows will sometimes offer resources to help you recycle them. 

These resources can include a link to the directory mentioned above, however, they can provide other resources as well.

For example, Sealed Air offers a list of their facilities with addresses to take your air pillows to. 

Although, the easiest resource is probably going to be the directory for finding a drop-off point.

Why Can’t Air Pillows Go In Curb Side Containers?

Air pillows are made from #4 Plastic, also called Plastic 4 or LDPE 4 (Low-Density Polyethylene).

Additionally, #4 Plastic is considered one of the older versions of polyethylene.

Furthermore, it is thin and somewhat stretchy, and it is also considered safe with food. For this reason, you often find Plastic 4:

  • Wrapped around bread
  • Used as shopping bags in grocery stores
  • Used to make the type of water bottles that you can squeeze easily

And, of course, you can also find it used as packaging material.

Therefore, plastic #4 is pretty ubiquitous, but it is difficult to recycle. 

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Furthermore, your waste disposal service is not likely to take materials made of this kind of plastic because it is thin and filmy and can get tangled up in the machinery at a recycling plant.

Are Air Pillows Bad For The Environment?

Are Air Pillows Bad For The Environment?

Air pillows are bad for the environment in the sense that they are not biodegradable.

Furthermore, left to their own devices, they will just sit in a landfill until the end of the world.

However, air pillows, like other things made from Plastic #4, are recyclable. 

The problem is that not many people take the opportunity to do so because it takes a little more effort than tossing it in a can, as you have seen from earlier sections.

This is a shame because recycled air pillows and other LDPE products can be used to make:

  • Liners for garbage cans
  • Landscaping materials
  • Floor tiles
  • Lumber that has plastic in it

Therefore, as this article covered earlier, there are many opportunities available to recycle your air pillows if you are willing to use the minimal effort to find them.

How To Reuse And Upcycle Air Pillows 

One thing to consider before you get to the recycling stage is reusing air pillows to pack materials. Before you begin this process, however, make sure the air pillows are:

  • Still full of air
  • Clean and in good condition

If the air pillows meet these two requirements, then you will be able to use them again as packaging material.

However, keep in mind that air pillows eventually run out of air and deflate, no matter how well you take care of them. 

So if you plan to hold onto them to use again, keep an eye on their condition. 

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Nevertheless, if you ship things regularly, either for personal use or for business use, you will not be disappointed by reusing air pillows for as long as they last. 

Of course, increasing the life span of a material is not exactly recycling, but it achieves a similar ending.

Although, if you do not often ship and feel you may not be able to reuse the air pillows before they expire, you can try a couple of other options.

Give Your Air Pillows To The Post Office

There are two organizations that are likely to reuse your air pillows and they are the:

  • Post office
  • Shipping store

Furthermore, if you plan to donate them, be sure that your air pillows are clean and in good condition. 

Between the two resources, you will probably find a place where you can drop off your used air pillows. 

Give Your Air Pillows To Friends

It is worth a shot to reach out to your community of friends and see if any of them need packaging material.


Air pillows can be recycled as long as you take the minimal effort required to find a drop-off point at a local grocery store or post office that will accept them.

If that does not work out, try reusing air pillows to get the most value out of them. For example, you can do this by reusing them for new packaging material!


  • Jean Richardson

    Jean Richardson is a lover of knowledge, in all forms. He has spent over 15 years as a high school teacher, instructing students in history, geography, mathematics, and more.

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