Trivia Question for March 20, 2014 – Packing Peanuts

Foam PeanutsLast week we had a trivia question about the invention and use of Bubble Wrap and we found out it was first used as packing material in 1960. For tonight’s Trivia Question we’ll take on another packing material – foam peanuts.

QUESTION:

In what year were foam packing peanuts introduced?

ANSWER:

1965

EXPLANATION:

Foam peanuts, also known as packing peanuts or packing noodles, are a common packaging and cushioning material used to prevent damage to fragile objects during shipping.

A variety of materials known as loose fill have been used to pack items for shipping for centuries. Hay and wood shavings were common until the mid-20th century. When packing with organic materials, companies had to risk vermin infestation of their packages, and things like newspaper did not always protect the items that were being shipped, as well as having a tendency to compress during shipping.

Polystyrene foam packing peanuts were developed by the Dow Chemical Company and introduced in 1965.

Packing peanuts are lightweight but strong enough that they do not break down during the shipping process. Incredibly cheap to make, they quickly flooded the packaging market, and companies all over the world began to use them for shipping everything from books to fruit. They seemed like the ideal solution to the issue of shipping delicate items long distance, until concerns about landfill space started to arise. Like other plastics, polystyrene takes an extremely long time to degrade.

Several companies started to manufacture these cushioning materials with recycled plastic, which was a positive first step. Peanut exchanges started to arise as well: companies that received items packed in peanuts could bring them, bagged, to an exchange where companies that needed packing materials could pick them up and recycle them in their own packages. In addition, the cornstarch packing materials were developed. Cornstarch peanuts are totally biodegradable, as anyone who has run one under warm water knows. They are as efficient as plastic and can be used and reused before they are exhausted.

NET CHECK IN’s:

Tonight we had a total of 31 stations check in to the Net.  Of those, 7 people had the correct answer to the Trivia Question.  Congratulations to:

  • John – KD6JEV
  • Mark – W6MWL
  • Roy – W6REH
  • Louie – AD6UP
  • Murray – WA6USL
  • Aram – KJ6YJS
  • Harry – KF6ZQM

And thanks to everyone who checked in to the Net.

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