How to dispose of Uline cold packs?

Uline cold packs are a brand of reusable cold packs which are colder than ice. These cold packs are used to carry food items, medicines, and laboratory reagents long distances. These are usually made of a gel packed in a plastic bag. 

Uline is one brand of cold packs, but other brands work just the same. Sometimes, cold packs are called Uline cold packs regardless of their brands. 

We get a lot of things home-delivered now, especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, home delivery has become the primary means by which we have essentials such as food and medicine delivered. 

For some of these products like meat or insulin, cold packs are placed into the foam box to maintain a low temperature that is optimum to keep the product fresh. The downside to all these home deliveries is the number of ice packs that start piling up. 

There are multiple ways to dispose of these ice packs, they can either be discarded, donated, upcycled or recycled. This article will discuss how to dispose of all types of cold packs properly, regardless of brand. 

How to dispose of Uline cold packs?

The best way to dispose of cold packs is to find anyone or any shop or institution nearby who could use these packs and then donate them. 

There may be homeless shelters or soup kitchens that may need cold packs to transport their food items. Now, you need to first do your research. Not every place may need these cold packs. You need to first ask if they are in need, if they are you can hand your collection of cold packs over. 

You may wonder why you can’t hand over your ice packs back to the pharmacies? That is because pharmacies maintain a high standard for what cold packs can be used. They will not take a chance on used items because they do not know where those have been used before. 

If donating is not an option you are left with the option to discard them. Cold packs have a gel inside that is usually made from cellulose. It often has a non-toxic dye as well. Your first step is to cut the bag open and take out the gel. You can directly throw the gel into the garbage, but it is better to let it dry out completely before you do so, this reduces the amount of space the waste takes up. 

It is important to first read the ingredient list for the gel before you discard it. Even though most cold packs do not contain any toxic materials; you still should read the ingredients before you throw out the gel into the trash. 

There’s a misconception that the gels can be flushed down the drain. Don’t do this, it is heavily discouraged, since the gel may clog the drains. 

As for the plastic bag, cut it open from three sides and make sure it’s fully dry first. Once it’s fully dried up, you can recycle it. Keep in mind that the plastic bag is considered soft plastic and most curbside municipalities will not accept it. 

You can find a recycling post near Grocery stores or big-box stores which will most likely have a drop-off point for soft plastics like plastic bags and wraps. You can drop the plastic bag there. Your city may even have a drop-off or pick-up service for soft plastics. Check your municipality’s website to find out more specific information.

Upcycling cold packs: 

No matter how much we take pride in recycling the plastic bags of the cold packs, and responsibly disposing of the gel inside, the fact of the matter is, the best thing to do with these cold packs is to find another use for them. Upcycling is a term that refers to reusing an item to create a product of better quality than the original product. 

Check the list below to see how you can upcycle cold packs: 

  • You can use cold packs to fill out space in your freezer, a freezer uses up less energy when it is full, as opposed to keeping the air in the freezer cold. 
  • You can use these cold packs as ice presses next time someone in your house gets a bruise. 
  • Cold packs can be used as cushions when you’re shipping or transporting fragile objects. 

Reducing the use of cold packs: 

Let’s face it, no matter how much we want to upcycle and recycle, the best solution will always be to reduce waste. In this current climate, there is a great push towards sustainability and fuel efficiency. We need to make sure companies hear us through the changes in our spending habits. 

Try to switch to companies that are more environmentally conscious about their packaging. There are cold packs available that are fully biodegradable, try to support the companies that use such products for shipping. If we make changes to our spending habits we can slowly make a difference that will steer our society toward a  more environmentally friendly future. Just remember to do what you can. 

Conclusion: 

We get a lot of things home-delivered now, especially since the start of the pandemic, home delivery has become the primary way we have essentials such as food and medicine delivered. 

For some of these products like meat or insulin, cold packs are placed into the foam box to maintain a low temperature that is optimum to keep the product fresh. The downside to all these home deliveries is the number of ice packs that start piling up. 

There are multiple ways to dispose of these ice packs, they can either be discarded, donated, upcycled or recycled. This article discusses how to dispose of all types of cold packs properly, regardless of brand. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Disposing Uline cold packs

Can I throw Uline Cold packs into the trash? 

It is not recommended to throw the whole pack into the trash. The plastic part is recyclable, and you should cut it up and drop the plastic off in a soft plastic bag in a recycling bin. 

Are cold packs recyclable? 

The plastic part is fully recyclable. But not through curbside recycling. Throw the plastic part to a soft plastic collection point. The gel inside is biodegradable in most cases and you can throw it into the trash after it dries out. 

Are the gels inside cold packs toxic? 

No, most of the gels in cold packs are not toxic anymore. These are usually made of cellulose gels nowadays and are nontoxic. 

Are cold packs reusable? 

Yes, these are in most cases reusable. Just make sure you clean them properly before using them to store or transport medicine. 

Are cold packs biodegradable? 

No, the outer portion of the cold pack is made of plastic which is derived from fossil fuels. This will never break down, so please do not throw cold packs into composting bins. 

Can you pour the gels from cold packs down the drain? 

No, this may cause the drain to clog. You have to air dry the gel and then throw it in the trash. 

References: 

  1. ULINE – Shipping Boxes, Shipping Supplies, Packaging Materials, Packing Supplies. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-18966/Insulated-Shippers-and-Supplies/Single-Use-Cold-Packs-6-oz
  2. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://www.the-daily-record.com/story/news/2018/07/01/too-many-ice-packs-from/985213007/
  3. How long do uline cold packs last?. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://askinglot.com/how-long-do-uline-cold-packs-last
  4. Food Delivery Cold Packs: Reuse, Upcycling, & Recycling Tips. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://earth911.com/business-policy/food-delivery-cold-pack-recycling/
  5. How Do You Dispose Of Cold Ice Packs – SeniorCare2Share. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://www.seniorcare2share.com/how-do-you-dispose-of-cold-ice-packs/
  6. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://www.dispatch.com/story/news/environment/2018/06/29/too-many-ice-packs-from/985251007/
  7. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://answerstoall.com/users-questions/can-you-put-an-instant-cold-pack-in-the-freezer/
  8. Ice Packs – Napa Recycling and Waste Services. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://naparecycling.com/guide/ice-packs/
  9. Food Delivery Cold Packs: Reuse, Upcycling, & Recycling Tips | Happy Eco News. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://happyeconews.com/2020/12/28/food-delivery-cold-packs-reuse-upcycling-recycling-tips/
  10. What’s Inside an Ice Pack?. (2022). Retrieved 11 February 2022, from https://www.poison.org/articles/whats-inside-ice-packs-201

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