Companies have always used packing materials to protect their merchandise during shipment. Early packaging materials included actual peanuts, newspaper and eventually styrofoam packing peanuts. The shipping industry has recently taken heed to the call for an environmentally friendly packing product by creating cornstarch packing peanuts.
In 1991 Evergreen Solutions, Inc. became one of the first companies to produce cornstarch packing peanuts as an alternative packing material. Prior to the creation of cornstarch packing peanuts, consumers would try to lessen their waste by recycling their packing. Consumers could either resend the packaging in one of their own shipments or go directly to a shipping company who would gladly accept the donation.
When compared to the traditional styrofoam packing peanut, cornstarch packing peanuts have significantly less static, do not seem to settle in shipment and are biodegradable. Instead of waiting to repurpose traditional packing peanuts into one’s next shipment, consumers can dispose of cornstarch packing peanuts instantly by merely adding water.
Greennature.com notes that styrofoam packing peanuts are generally reused up to 10 times, whereas biodegradable peanuts are used typically once and cost nearly twice as much.
Another drawback of cornstarch packing peanuts is that since they're water soluble they might dissolve if they get wet or get tacky in humid conditions.
Originally intended as a packaging material, cornstarch packing peanuts have several other uses.
Corn starch peanuts can be added to compost piles or lawns with no adverse effects and while they FDA approved, you can not determine what has come in contact with the peanuts, so consumption on massive amounts should be discouraged.
The craft industry has also recently begun to embrace this product. White peanuts normally can be purchased at office supply stores; however colored peanuts are now available by names such as “EnviroBlox” or “Happy Mais,” and are sold online through cadaco.com or at peekagreen.com.
Crafters can create cornstarch figures by connecting moistened portions of peanuts together to form unlimited shapes.