Guide to Eco-Friendly Void-Fill Packaging

Guide to eco-friendly void fill packaging

Product manufacturers and sellers frequently struggle with empty spaces or uneven surfaces inside boxes. These packaging issues can cause items inside to move around, leading to potential damage. Companies use void-fill materials to eliminate gaps and provide cushioning and support.

The exponential growth of e-commerce and online shopping has created a high demand for efficient and secure packaging solutions. At the same time, sustainable packaging has become a prominent concern for consumers and businesses. Read our guide to eco-friendly void-fill packaging to learn about the solutions available for your brand.

What Is Void-Fill Packaging? 

Void-fill packaging, or loose-fill packaging, refers to the materials used to occupy empty spaces or gaps in a container to protect its contents during transportation or shipping. Putting filler between the contents and the box creates a buffer that reduces the risk of breakage, shifting and colliding, ensuring the items remain intact during transportation.

The problem with traditional packaging protection like foam peanuts and plastic air pillows is that these non-biodegradable materials contribute to climate change. Almost 70% of plastic packaging waste generated in the U.S. ends up in landfills. 

There are various ways to make packaging more sustainable — using eco-friendly packaging filler reduces waste and minimizes the environmental impact of the e-commerce life cycle. If you do your research, you can ensure your protective materials are recyclable or biodegradable. Even brands that prioritize packaging’s visual appeal can use sustainable, natural or recycled fillers for an aesthetic addition.

Packaging filler can serve the following purposes for shipped items.

  • Wrapped protection: Carefully wrap fragile items before putting them in a box.
  • Cushioning: Soft protection surrounds products to stop them from moving during transit.
  • Bracing: Stuffing gaps between items with filler keeps them still.
  • Presentation: Packaging filler can enhance your customers’ unpacking experience.

When Should You Use Packaging Filler? 

If you feel uncomfortable flipping a full box upside down or worry about jostling a package around, chances are you need to use packaging filler. Though safeguarding fragile items is the primary reason to use void-fill packaging, many other situations also call for this solution.

  • Irregularly shaped items: Uneven or irregularly shaped items may leave empty spaces in standard boxes. Filling these gaps secures products in place to reduce the risk of damage.
  • Multiple items in one package: If there several items are in a single box, packaging filler keeps them from bumping into each other in transit. This separation is crucial when the items are different sizes or have sharp edges.
  • Shipping container protection: Packaging filler also helps protect shipping boxes from the items they carry. Sharp or pointy products can pierce corrugated boxes, while heavier products can wear through external packaging due to vibrations during transit. Void fillers reduce the risks of container damage.
  • Empty areas in packaging: Packed items may have hollow spaces between them. Packaging filler can provide much-needed stability that prevents the contents from rattling or sliding.
  • Brand experience: Your business can reinforce your brand identity by creatively using packaging filler materials. When done right, filler can keep items secure and well-presented, giving recipients a sense of excitement in unboxing items.

Examples of Eco-Friendly Packaging Filler 

Now that you know when to use packaging filler, what type is right for your items? Below is a list of eco-friendly packaging filler examples to help you find something that may work for your products and brand.

  • Tissue paper: Tissue paper is one of the most common void fillers, as it comes in a rainbow of colors. It provides low-level protection while adding sophistication to high-end luxury items. Customized tissue paper can enhance a customer’s unboxing experience.
  • Packaging paper: Packaging paper is a sustainable, affordable and versatile material. It adds a minimalist touch and is ideal for durable items like clothing.
  • Crinkle paper: Crinkle paper is the shredded form of packaging paper. It comes in various environmentally friendly options and can easily flatten and fill gaps between items.
  • Spiro packs: Spiro packs are spiral-shaped alternatives to crinkle paper. They take less space than shredded paper, yet add an extra cushioning layer in your brand colors.
Custom box inserts
  • Custom box inserts: Internal inserts are pieces of cardboard folded in a specific way to present items in a package while keeping them secure. This solution is ideal for shipping fragile items, luxury goods or products with multiple accessories.
  • Honeycomb paper: Made from silk paper, honeycomb paper is a lightweight material that is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. It only takes a small amount of material to fill a lot of space, providing spacious cushioning in packages.
  • Bio foam fillers: Brands that care about the environment but sell products in multiple shapes and sizes may find bio foam fillers helpful. It’s a biodegradable alternative to polystyrene foam balls, made from plant-based materials such as corn waste.
  • Shredded cardboard: Cardboard can simultaneously serve as a container and filler. When cardboard starts losing its structural integrity, you can recycle and repurpose it as void filler to protect small but relatively heavy objects.

How to Choose the Right Packing Filler

There is no single best eco-friendly packaging filler material. Factors in choosing sustainable void filler include:

  • The products you plan to ship
  • How much protection your products need
  • How much time you have to fold paper
  • Your budget
  • The unboxing experience you want to create for your customers

You can also order custom-sized boxes to go the extra mile as an environmentally aware brand. For example, small corrugated cardboard boxes are less likely to need filler, reducing excess packaging material.

Order Your Eco-Friendly Corrugated Boxes From Custom Boxes Now

Choose sustainable packaging materials that require fewer resources and have less environmental impact to boost your brand’s reputation among eco-conscious customers. We create custom boxes in various styles. Use our box configuration tool and provide some information about your packaging needs.

Eco-friendly corrugated boxes