55 years on: we spoke to Sealed Air who revealed how Bubble Wrap has stood the test of time

4 min read17 November 2015

With the impending introduction of a new ‘unpoppable’ Bubble Wrap dubbed as iBubble, we spoke to the company that originally created the popular packaging material in 1957, Sealed Air. We asked them how Bubble Wrap had stood the test of time as a protective packaging material popular with retailers and consumers alike.

Sealed Air Logo

Rajapack: We’ve heard that Bubble Wrap was invented after two shower curtains were placed together and was originally intended as wallpaper. Can you give us any more ‘insider’ info on how Bubble Wrap moved from wallpaper to protective packaging?

Sealed Air: The original waffled wall-covering was a marketplace flop.  Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, the creators of the wallpaper and founders of Sealed Air, then tried to position their creation as greenhouse insulation. But that idea, too, was unsuccessful.

Their luck changed when international powerhouse, IBM launched its 1401 Data Processing System in 1960, and needed protective packaging for sizable shipments of the delicate electronics. Fielding and Chavannes realise how effective their invention could be in this field and brand their product, Bubble Wrap. In response to the initial success of Bubble Wrap, they launched the Sealed Air Corporation that we recognize today.

Rajapack: What are the key benefits of Bubble Wrap as protective packaging?

Sealed Air: Using air to pack was a revolution, and is still just as valid today as it was 50 years ago. It’s more sustainable, flexible, cost-effective and protective to use air to protect than to use material. And we keep innovating to ensure Bubble Wrap’s place in the hearts and minds of our customers is never called into question.

Rajapack: How do you ensure that the Bubbles don’t pop prematurely?

Sealed Air: All air cellular packaging materials are made from polyethylene. However, polyethylene alone does not provide good air retention over time or under a weight load. That’s why we use a co-extruded barrier that is 100 times more resistant to the passage of air than even a thick single layer of polyethylene.

Bubble Wrap in use

Rajapack: How can Sealed Air and Bubble Wrap become more environmentally responsible, something that is becoming increasingly important to customers?

Sealed Air: As a knowledge-based company with a focus on sustainability, our objective is to provide our customers with solutions that solve their business challenges while reducing waste throughout the supply chain.

By considering the ethical and environmental impact of our solutions, we deliver products with measureable sustainability improvements over the products we replace. It’s something we call “The SmartLife™ approach.” This is a customer-centric method of product innovation – and Bubble Wrap plays its part in this approach.

Rajpack: How has Bubble Wrap evolved over time, and do you think it could be improved?

Sealed Air: Bubble Wrap has diversified and adapted with customers’ needs throughout its 55 years on the market. The size of bubbles have been made both bigger and smaller, to enable greater versatility in protection as customer requirements have changed over the years.

It is innovation that has kept Bubble Wrap as one of the most popular protective packaging materials on the market.  It’s been added to the lining of envelopes, leading to the development of a whole host of protective mailers. This simple, but highly effective application of the bubble technology makes it quicker and easier for retailers to pack and ship products.

Most recently, we’ve introduced a new, revamped version of Bubble Wrap that doesn’t pop. This new version of Bubble Wrap can get into markets that original Bubble Wrap could not reach before, and doing so while drastically reducing the amount of trucks on the road to get our product into the hands of our customers.  We will continue to develop and innovate in order to ensure Bubble Wrap stays as effective as possible.

Popping the Bubble Wrap

When you’re sending goods to your customers, it is vital that you protect them so that they arrive in ideal condition. Bubble Wrap continues to be one of the market leaders in protective packaging, and with Sealed Air continuing to develop and innovate their product, it is set to continue to safely package products for years to come.

If you would like any more information on how Bubble Wrap can aid your packaging operation, contact one of our packaging specialists on 0800 542 44 28. You can also view all our Bubble Wrap products on the Rajapack website.

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