Macy's Switches To Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Wesa ordered a cast iron pot from Macy’s and it got packed in these special packing peanuts which Macy’s says are 100% biodegradable. They’re made from corn and potato starch. Macy’s says you can dissolve them in water and pour in the garden, yard, sink, or toilet, or put them in the compost, put them in the ground, or simply throw them away where they will “dissolve in the landfill.” Pretty neat! The accompanying flyer is inside.


Edit Your Comment

  1. ChipMcDougal says:

    There’s gotta be a hidden (Earth-Friendly Packing Peanuts) charge somewhere :0

  2. RandomHookup says:

    How about they switch to edible ones? Peanuts are great for the soil. Everybody wins!

  3. Or you can add cheese powder from a box of kraft mac n cheese, and you’ve got cheetos!

  4. Bladefist says:

    @ChipMcDougal: of course. nothing is free.

  5. LUV2CattleCall says:

    Awesome! Our ferrets love digging in boxes full of these things and it’s a pain to find them these days!

  6. But still not edible. Come on, peeps.

  7. dr.zaeus says:

    These have been used for shipping at Barnes & Noble stores for the last decade.

  8. ChipMcDougal says:

    @Ash78: I’m allergic to peanuts! Although if my shirt is too big, I can swell up and fill it nicely.

  9. SuffolkHouse says:


    There is a hidden charge. It is called “tax-payer subsidies for agriculture.”

  10. Streyeder says:

    Are you kidding? These things have been around for 10 years or so. I remember my parents getting them in packages years ago.

    Macy’s is just behind the times.

  11. SuffolkHouse says:


    Man, finally a realist republican around to really keep it real. I’m so amazed at your capacity for cutting right to the bone. We need more people like you, Bolton & Wolfowitz.

  12. blacketj913 says:

    @Ash78: They are probably edible, just not very tasty.

  13. amyschiff says:

    @Streyeder: agreed… I remember learning about these things in elementary school

  14. Christovir says:

    These have been fairly standard in the UK for a few years now, and in my opinion a good idea that was long overdue. As far as them being edible… my pet rabbits gnawed a hole in a box and ate their own body-size in these packaging peanuts (they’re almost all air). They seemed to be just fine, though I was worried when I first discovered what had happened. I tried a nibble, and it was a bit bland, kind of like a rice cake with more elasticity.

  15. Rectilinear Propagation says:


  16. B says:

    @blacketj913: Just like peeps.

  17. mgy says:

    I’m dipping these in popcorn butter and going to town.

  18. Me - now with more humidity says:

    Try barbecue sauce.

  19. ringo00 says:

    @Ash78: Oh, but they are. Not tasty by any stretch, but definitely edible.

    These are nothing new. In college, when I worked in the school IT department, we always used to gross people out by eating these packing peanuts. One guy I know, who admittedly was a bit off, actually liked the things as snack food with a little ketchup.

    The other thing you can do with these is leave them over the drain of a drinking fountain. When the water hits it, it will turn into a translucent gelatinous mass quite resembling a number of bodily fluids.

  20. ucdcsteve says:

    How many trees did they cut down to print the fliers to promote their Earth-saving peanuts?

    Just like the government that spent $40million to tell me I had a check coming.

  21. @ringo00: Have you been dropping these into vitamin waters?

  22. TWSS says:

    “They’re made from corn and potato starch.”

    Global food crisis? What global food crisis?

  23. djanes1 says:

    Yes, these have been around for a long time, lots of companies use
    them, and I think Ben is owed a steak dinner from Macy’s PR department.

  24. Will you burn them, Ben, and tell us what happens?

  25. Erwos says:

    @TWSS: Considering that styrofoam is made from oil, this isn’t a bad alternative.

  26. @RandomHookup: @Ash78: One of the Mac catalogs used to ship with these, and I remember eating them. I would say they are closest to Communion wafers. Not very tasty in either the good or bad way, and they get gooey. But more nutritious than the box they came in or the PC card they protected.

  27. diddy0071 says:

    And they offset it by killing a tree to tell you how they are saving the earth on a flyer. Why not just print it on the box? Why create a whole fucking flyer?

  28. consumersaur says:

    These have been around a while I thought?! I used to impress (freak out, disturb) co-workers by shoving a handful of the pellets in my mouth and “vanishing” them.

  29. BigElectricCat says:

    Just don’t get them wet, because the peanuts start sticking together quite readily (I presume the wet bits start to dissolve) once they get damp.

  30. zumdish says:

    Um, before you nibble on these for a goof, bear in mind while they may be made from edible materials, they sure aren’t manufactured or handled according to food safety rules.

  31. Coelacanth says:

    I’m just worried about how insects might favour the new packing material.

    I can imagine that roaches and small vermin will serve as “added features” with Macy’s shipments.

    In all seriousness, have there been any reports of infestation?

  32. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    If i dissolve enough will i have instant potatoes? Be pretty sweet to kill two birds with one stone! On a serious note, good move!

  33. captadam says:

    @diddy0071: A pretty decently designed flyer, though.

  34. Toof_75_75 says:

    Oh good, another use for corn that doesn’t include food…Sounds awesome!

  35. HootieMac says:

    @Ash78: You’re suggesting they use peeps as packing material? That’s just crazy enough to work!

  36. weakdome says:

    They used to market something similar as children’s building-block toys, I think they were called “Zog Logs” or something similar. You wet the ends of them and they stick to each other (becuase they start to partially dissolve). You can use these ‘peanuts’ to build things if you so desire… a packing-peanut mansion for your pet, and it’s edible!

  37. MFfan310 says:

    @HootieMac: Section 9 Reject: Just make sure that Macy’s specifies red Peeps in the shape of their star logo. Yeah, that should do the trick!

  38. sgodun says:

    And the three-color offset printed flyer telling everyone how responsible they are….?

  39. ChipMcDougal says:

    @sgodun: touché

  40. Landru says:

    While they are a great improvement, I know that vermin find them yummy. I lived in a loft in an industrial area and a nearby building was torn down. The displaced rats came to our building.
    I had a big garbage bag full of those biodegradable packing peanuts and one night I heard something in it crunching.
    The landlord brought over some traps that the rats totally ignored. So I put those some of those peanuts in the traps and wham, wham, wham, the rats were gone. Well, after the LL hauled them away, they were gone.

    I don’t keep them in the house.

  41. @RandomHookup: “How about they switch to edible ones?”

    The styrofoam peanuts aren’t edible? Oops…

  42. @diddy0071: “And they offset it by killing a tree to tell you how they are saving the earth on a flyer. Why not just print it on the box? Why create a whole flyer?”

    My thoughts exactly, minus the profanity :)

    I hope the flyer is biodegradable.

  43. MeOhMy says:

    @TWSS: That’s what I was thinking, too. If biodiesel is dicey as an alternative to oil, it seems like using food-based packing materials as an alternative to oil-based is pretty much the same thing!

  44. lawnmowerdeth says:

    @consumersaur: Exactly! They’re edible (but not tasty), but excellent for freaking out the coworkers.

  45. ElizabethD says:

    Excellent move by Macy’s.

    That being said: any of you who contemplate keeping a stash of these in plastic bags for future packing, be aware that they will grow mold and stick together if exposed to dampness. I learned this the hard way. Ewww!

  46. says:

    awesome. hopefully this will catch on for other stores.

  47. suzapalooza says:

    “Put it in your trash bin. It will dissolve in the landfill.” only if that plastic petroleum-based nightmare of a trash bag you use develops a hole and something wet seeps in. NOTHING goes anywhere in a landfill.

    I think it was irresponsible of her to order a cast iron pot from an online source. How much gas did it take to ship that puppy? First from the manufacturer to the warehouse, then to her door. Get off your butt and go to the store! Walk there and back and get some great exercise toting that cast iron pot! (tho she gets props for buying cast iron – one of the few cooking devices that’s good for the environment)

  48. dwarf74 says:

    Thank goodness.

    My wife and I registered at Macy’s. I can’t tell you how many humongous boxes we received that were 90% peanuts, 10% actual items. It was insane.

    I mean, my cat loved it – reaching into boxes and hooking styrofoam peanuts is one of his favorite games, second only to tearing said peanuts apart and making each peanut cover like 20 square feet – but it was obnoxious.

  49. juniper says:

    @TWSS: Believe it or not, these things are made from a byproduct of corn processing – it was one of the first (useful) things scientists were able to create from the byproducts of manufacturing ethanol.

  50. @suzapalooza: I’m all for making an effort, but what you just said was a little ridiculous.

    Manufacturer -> Distributor -> Retail Store -> Customer

    Manufacturer -> Distributor -> Online Store -> Customer

    There are an equal number of steps in each equation, and each arrow represents a step in shipping.

    Do you think one UPS Truck driving a carefully planned route around a geographical area to deliver 30 cast iron skillets would take more or less gas than 30 people making a special trip to drive their own cars across town and back to buy the same cast-iron skillet at the store?

    Yes, everyone could possibly walk, but let’s be realistic, since reality is where we live.

  51. LUV2CattleCall says:


    No kidding! Heck, the routes of UPS are so carefully planned that they have people figure out how to reduce left turns


    The equation gets even better when you get items drop-shipped from the manufacturer, or in cases such as where the Distributor/Warehouse/Online Store are all the same.

  52. LUV2CattleCall says:


    Cast Iron FTL….what a pain. Season/don’t use soap/blah blah blah…

    I’ll stick to my Eclipse coated anodized aluminum pans, thank you very much

  53. wesa says:

    @suzapalooza: I don’t drive and I normally walk/bus/bike everywhere. That being said, I had a combination of online deals that reduced the price of the pot from $100 to $11, including the shipping charge and as a full-time college student, couldn’t pass that up.

  54. @LUV2CattleCall: “The equation gets even better when you get items drop-shipped from the manufacturer, or in cases such as where the Distributor/Warehouse/Online Store are all the same.”

    You’re right – I just wanted to show how, even in the worst-case scenario, online ordering is usually still more resource-friendly. In the best case…

    Manufacturer -> Consumer

    …it’s exceptionally more efficient.

  55. ThunderRoad says:

    Just use unbuttered/unsalted popcorn. It’s cheaper and just as bio-degradable.

  56. consumersaur says:

    @lawnmowerdeth: haha. Glad to know I’m not the only one who eats packing peanuts.

  57. suzapalooza says:

    @InfiniTrent: even greater benefit to the environment, get one on freecycle or at the thrift store. Except in the case of cast iron where use is what makes it good, I don’t know that I’d want someone else’s ‘use”.

  58. losiek says:

    @LUV2CattleCall: Yes, there is an improvement in this case if everyone in your area is buying from the same store. Otherwise UPS is pretty neat. A signle truck picks up a lot of stuff from different manufacturers, and a single one delivers the same stuff to your location.

  59. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Good on Macy’s, but these are like, really old. They’ve been around for years. I’m sort of surprised anyone uses the other kind.
    These things have spawned an entire sub-category of child-art (Google ‘packing peanut art’ [])
    You can wet them & stick them together for building fun, too: []

  60. This is great until you get a package with a mixture of both…

  61. Swervo says:

    I worked at back around the turn of the millenium and we were using these biodegradable popcorn in our packaging. In our case, it was more an issue of non-toxic packaging for toys rather than biodegradable, kids could eat them and it wouldn’t hurt ’em.

    The downside? They disintegrate a bit during shipping, so sometimes you end up covered in packing snow.

  62. scottiB says:


    According to the flyer, the print job is Forest Stewardship Council certified and printed on stock with 30% known post-consumer recycled content.

    With that seal we know that the trees are not being slashed acre-upon-acre and not replenished, losing habitat and CO2 filtering.

    Why not print on the box? Because graphic designers need work, too, and it’s cheaper to print inserts than on the box.

  63. Mr_D says:

    @lawnmowerdeth: Tell that to my dog – he’d eat a whole box if we let him.

    My dog is very strange.

  64. emdy says:

    I work in a bio lab, and we got tons of these one day and we spent a fun afternoon watching it shrink and dissolve in the sink :D

  65. crichton007 says:

    Sweet, they switch to earth friendly packing materials and then waste more paper telling you about it.

  66. Breach says:

    Naturally, they had to kill several trees to print the flyers to tell people about their biodegradable packing peanuts….

    That is good though, the Styrofoam ones are a pain in the ass

  67. wring says:

    if i can flush the packaging down the toilet then i will be impressed.

  68. nXt says:

    @Streyeder: Ya, this crap is old. I remember at LEAST 10 years ago finding out about this at school.
    Then sometimes I do get them in packages from different places and I’d show my friends by making them disappear in the sink.

  69. elanne says:

    Yep. These have been around for a long time. Problem is – unless they are identified as such, you don’t know which ones dissolve and which don’t. Point being: who wants to get them all wet only to discover that they are the old style?

    The company doesn’t have to send a self-serving flyer but even a small sticker or slip of paper would be helpful.

  70. ZebediahHamilton says:

    These peanuts are close to 100%Bio but not.They contain plastic made from petroleum and other specialty chemicals.They do break down in water I would get the m.s.d.s. sheet and read it before eating. I have a price increase letter from the manufacture of the resin they are made of stating the price of petroleum products and the demand for specialty chemicals is the reason for the latest price increase. The off white peanuts that have a pop corn smell are made of sorghum grain only. They are eatable by nature but are not manufactured under inspected food process
    Jim Hogan