Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Flexi-Hex

Can recycled paper packaging replace bubble wrap?


The honeycomb design can protect everything from surfboards and smartphones to wine bottles

Spotted: In the UK alone, 240,000 miles of bubble wrap are produced every year, and, although it can be recycled, the vast majority of this fossil-based packaging ends up in landfill. It’s crucial to find alternatives to plastic that don’t rely on the consumption of fossil fuels, and one Cornish B Corp has created a greener, paper alternative that can be used as a bubble wrap replacement. 

Flexi-Hex is a protective packaging sleeve made from 100 per cent recycled paper that helps protect breakable products as they’re transported. The patented honeycomb design expands up to 35 times its compact size to envelop the product inside and when the packaging is no longer needed, the sleeves can be recycled, biodegraded, or composted in six weeks. 

Initially launching a plastic-free packaging sleeve designed for surfboards, the company branched out to make bottle packaging and a sleeve made from tissue paper, Flexi-Hex Air, which is ideal for protecting more fragile miniature goods like cosmetics and electronics. 

Not only is bubble wrap unsustainable because of its reliance on plastic, but storing and transporting the air-filled material also wastes a lot of unnecessary space. One pallet of Flexi-Hex is equivalent to five pallets of bubble wrap, meaning that the packaging material can be shipped and stored much more easily and at a lower cost. 

Having passed European drop tests, the team is confident in the strength of the packaging and its ability to protect fragile items from impact and movement in transit. Others agree, with brands like Moonpig, Bombay Sapphire, and Brewdog already having used Flexi-Hex packaging. 

As more and more plastic enters the oceans, Springwise has spotted many innovations looking to minimise waste and protect the marine environment. One startup eliminates excess packaging with on-demand boxes, while researchers in China are creating foam packaging from upcycled cardboard. 

Written By: Anam Alam and Matilda Cox




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