A comparison of various packaging loose fill cushioning materials based on protective performance and environmental concerns.
This study investigated the cushioning properties of various loose fill packaging materials. The objective of this study was to determine the shock absorbing characteristics of different loose fill packaging cushioning materials that are commercially available. Seven different materials were compared in this study using a 3 inch thick cushion encapsulating a block. The transmitted shock level was presented in the form of conventional cushion curves. Using this information and the density of materials, "Environmental Cushion Curves" were developed to compare the various materials. These comparisons were made on the basis of the level of protection in G's versus the ratio of required cushion weight or cushion volume to the product weight. The results of the comparisons showed that starch based loose fill materials (Naturpack and Eco-Foam) and Fiberflow showed the best protective performance for the volume of material used and the 100% recycled EPS showed the best performance in terms of percent weight utilization. Other materials like popcorn and wood shavings showed poor material utilization. Corrugated loose fill showed the least amount of settling due to vibration.