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Sealed Air Corp., the packaging specialist famous for bringing us Bubble Wrap, has introduced iBubble Wrap. The protective plastic packaging is more cost effective than what we can now call classic Bubble Wrap, but, sadly, it won't make that satisfying pop.

Clare Goldsberry

July 2, 2015

2 Min Read
Bubble Wrap loses its pop . . . ularity

Sealed Air Corp., the packaging specialist famous for bringing us Bubble Wrap, has introduced iBubble Wrap. The protective plastic packaging is more cost effective than what we can now call classic Bubble Wrap, but, sadly, it won't make that satisfying pop. Sealed Air's new iBubble "will appeal to space-conscious online retailers, who are driving swift growth in the global packaging business," said a Wall Street Journal article.

bubble-wrap-200.jpgiBubble Wrap will be sold and shipped in flat plastic sheets that the shipper fills with air using a custom pump, according to the WSJ article. While the protective iBubble Wrap still has air bubbles, they won't pop like the original Bubble Wrap when pressure is applied.

Bubble Wrap was developed in 1957 by Alfred W. Fielding and Marc Chavannes, who set out to create a new wall covering by laminating two plastic sheets with air bubbles in between, said Sealed Air's history. While the invention never caught on as a wall décor, they discovered other useful applications for the product, first as greenhouse insulation and then as packaging material. In 1960, Fielding and Chavannes founded Sealed Air Corp. with Bubble Wrap as the company's signature brand.

The Wall Street Journal noted that Bubble Wrap currently represents only 3.6% of Sealed Air's sales, down from 5.7% in 2010, "and profit margins on the product have contracted sharply in the previous decade. Because of its bulk, the company doesn't ship to customers beyond 150 miles to keep costs down. Competitors are making similar products such as air cushions, and online retailers are charging for package size rather than weight, creating less need for the lightweight Bubble Wrap.

While Sealed Air's iconic product may be going away, the company is here to stay. Last week, Sealed Air broke ground on its new global headquarters site in Charlotte, NC. The campus will consist of three buildings and house more than 1,200 employees, including leaders from Sealed Air's three divisions and corporate functions. It will also house the company's new R&D facility and a customer learning center.

Maybe they can come up with a way to pop the new bubble columns on the iBubble Wrap and teach everyone at the learning center?

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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