10 Ideas for Where to Recycle Packing Materials After a Move

Taylor Sansano
Written by Taylor Sansano
Updated May 18, 2022
A young woman moving in a new house
Photo: kali9 / E+ / Getty Images


  • Packing materials can be reused in many ways.

  • Some moving companies offer packing material removal as part of their service.

  • Recycle your packing materials at a recycling center, shipping company, or big-box retailer.

Get quotes from up to 3 pros!
Enter a zip below and get matched to top-rated pros near you.

Moving comes with a ton of extra packing materials, from boxes to packing tape to unpopped bubble wrap. And when you’re already in the weeds of unpacking your belongings, figuring out what to do with these materials can be another headache. Luckily, there are a few options for how and where to recycle packing materials. 

As you plan for your next move, figure out what you’re going to do with your packing materials ahead of time to mitigate the hassle during the process. Let’s cover some of the options available for recycling packing materials.

1. Save for Future Moves

If you have the space and plan on moving in the future, you can save all of your packing materials for future use. Break down all of the boxes and store them flat along a wall or in a crawl space. 

Even if you don’t save all of your materials, you should consider keeping any custom-made storage containers, like ones for antiques or your TV box. These can be easily stored in a closet or attic for when you need them next.

2. Reuse for Arts and Crafts

With a little imagination, a cardboard box can be just about anything. From a DIY projector to a custom rocket ship, moving boxes provide children with a fun and free way to push their creative boundaries. 

3. Keep for Future Home Projects

You can reuse packing paper and cardboard boxes for large and small household projects. You can use boxes as a buffer, like when painting or sanding, to keep your home clean while renovating, or use packing paper as a plant starter or weed barrier in your home garden.

4. Utilize Moving Boxes for Storage

Cardboard boxes can come in handy in a lot of different ways, like storing clothes, packing unused items for donation, or as containers in a storage space. Before you decide to get rid of them, take some time to think about how certain boxes could help your organizational process.

5. Donate or Give Away Extra Materials

A man unpacking moving boxes
Photo: luza studios / E+ / Getty Images

One way to recycle packing materials is to give them away to someone who can use them. If you don’t know of anyone who can take them off your hands, try posting them for free on one of these websites:

  • Craigslist

  • NextDoor 

  • Facebook Marketplace

  • Freecycle 

6. Give Back to a Shipping Company

Some post offices and shipping facilities accept clean shipping and packing materials. However, these entities will likely only accept packing materials that are new or in good condition, meaning they don’t have any spills or food debris. Check in with your local post office or shipping facility to learn their donation policies before bringing in your packing materials.

7. Drop Off at a Recycling Center

Most drop-off recycling centers accept basic packing materials like cardboard boxes, packing paper, and biodegradable packing products. Research your local recycling center to determine which types of packing materials they accept.

8. Donate to a Big-Box Store

Retailers like Lowe’s and Target often recycle flexible plastic film materials, like bubble wrap and apparel bags because they’re made from the same material as plastic bags. However, not all big-box stores have this type of recycling program, so talk with a representative from your local retailer before bringing in your materials.

9. Ask Your Moving Team for Help

If you’re planning to hire a moving company for your move, ask about their recycling or removal programs. Many companies offer this as an added service, making your moving process that much easier. If you’re already paying for packing and unpacking, the movers will either use reusable containers to negate extra waste or get rid of used materials on your behalf.

10. Hire a Removal Company

If you have an overwhelming amount of packing materials to recycle, it may be time to call in the big guns. If that’s the case, hire a local hauling company. They can customize their services to fit your needs, whether it’s taking the items to a recycling center or hauling them to a junkyard. The cost of a small junk removal job usually costs between $50 to $150.

Which Packing Materials Can I Recycle?

Throwing away a mass quantity of packing materials can be wasteful, so make the moving process more sustainable by recycling the items that you can. Before recycling your leftover packing materials, ensure that your local recycling program accepts your items.

Here’s a list of the most commonly recyclable moving materials: 

  • Cardboard boxes

  • Newspaper

  • Paper plates and napkins

  • Biodegradable packing peanuts

Can I Recycle Packing Paper?

White and brown packing paper is accepted by most curbside recycling companies. Ensure it’s not wet or covered in any food or debris before recycling it. 

Can I Recycle Bubble Wrap?

Some specialty recycling sites accept bubble wrap, but not all do. When researching where to recycle packing materials, make sure they accept bubble wrap before donating.

Need professional help with your project?
Get quotes from top-rated pros.