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'Packing peanuts' hotline is on the loose fill

Don't toss 'em out or wring your hands: There’s another option for discarding excess EPS pieces.

When it comes to product protection, sometimes it's a must to void-fill a package. Companies know this, as do individuals who send or receive items that need protection.

One of the most common methods is to use those ubiquitous expanded polystyrene pieces better known as EPS “peanuts,” which are often viewed as an annoyance by the recipient of shipped items. Maybe that’s because they really don’t appreciate the fact that every undamaged item that arrives can credit some of its intactness to those peanuts. I’m not alone in assuming the arrival of undamaged goods is taken for granted.

But what do we do with those darn 'nuts? Simply throwing them out is a pain because they are so lightweight they scatter like flies any time you handle or want to transfer them. I had a garbage bag that, when periodically fed these white peanuts, grew like some sort of black monster in my garage until the bag got full, and I just threw them out.

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Imbalance of supply and demand?

What can you do with them if your incoming supply outstrips your outgoing demand? I found a possible answer online at

It’s the Web site of The Plastic Loose Fill Council (PLFC). According to the site, the organization was founded in 1991 to develop, promote, and implement the original use and subsequent recovery, reuse and recycling of EPS loose fill, commonly known as "packing peanuts.”

The three member companies comprise Storopack, billed as the world's largest manufacturer, converter, and recycler of expandable polystyrene packaging, along with Inter-Pac, Inc. and Rapac Inc.

The Peanut Hotline works this way: By going to or calling 800/828-2214, you can learn of the nearest EPS peanut collection site. You bring the extra loose fill to a Peanut Hotline member business that reuses it in outgoing shipments.

I checked several locations for availability, including my hometown of Clinton, IA, and Issaquah, WA, a Seattle suburb where an old friend lives, but neither location had drop offs. Nor did Oakland, CA, where the PLFC is based, ironically enough.


However, Lombard, IL, where I live, has a location, plus it’s only about a mile away. When I phoned them, the man answering confirmed that they do accept packing peanuts, as well as corn-based peanuts. I’ll consider it for future reference.

So if you collect and store peanuts by default, consider checking at the PLFC Web site. Otherwise, you can keep feeding your monsters in the garage until there’s no room for the car.

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