Gel Based Coolant Environmental FAQs


Icer-Pack Coolant Environmental & Safety FAQs


Why do you use plastic for the outer bag of your coolants?

Our coolants are water based and therefore require a plastic to contain the contents. Currently available alternatives are just simply not suitable to deliver the performance required for the application. There are suppliers out there who offer what appears to be a paper outer on their coolants, but this is simply paper on the outside which is actually lined with plastic to contain the liquid. These materials are widely non-recyclable in the UK.


Can the coolants be reused?

Yes, we love it when customers reuse our bags. Our coolants can be re-used many times over for keeping shopping / picnics cold, and even for helping with injuries!


Can the outer bag be recycled once used?

Yes, they are 100% recyclable.

The bag is LDPE 4 material. A small proportion of local councils will currently accept this kerbside (you will need to check with your own council), but you will be able to recycle the outer bags along with carrier bags and films at all major supermarkets.

We are hopeful that as part of ‘The UK Plastics Pact’ that the Government will act to continue to make the recycling process easier for the end user and create a more fully closed loop system: –

The UK Plastics Pact | WRAP


Why don’t you use a biodegradable or compostable plastic?

Whilst it sounds great, biodegradable plastic is actually non-recyclable, and is considered as a contaminant in current recycling streams. Most biodegradable plastics end up in landfill, and despite the name, they can take a very long time to degrade in landfill conditions (they often require industrial conditions with pressure and heat to degrade in a sensible time frame). Using our LDPE outer bag means that it is fully recyclable for the end user.

Regarding compostable plastics, the main problem is our application involves the containment of a liquid. Currently available compostable plastics are considered to be water permeable, which ultimately means that they would eventually break down for our application. This would mean that the coolants would have a very limited shelf life, not be re-usable, and would ultimately cause a high rate of failures and logistical challenges for our customers. Compostable plastics are still currently 3 to 4 times more expensive than standard LDPE, and are not without their own environmental challenges and impacts.


So that’s it, you will just be using LDPE?

As a company, we are always keen to improve and reduce our environmental impact, so are keen to keep improving what we do and engage with new ideas and materials. We currently believe that LDPE still remains the best material available for our product in terms of functionality and recyclability. It would be great if scientists could invent a new revolutionary material that is suitable for our application that is not plastic based. By 2027 the government has pledged to make LDPE fully kerbside recyclable across the UK.

We always welcome feedback from customers if they are aware of anything that we are missing.


What are the bag contents – i.e. the ‘gel’?

The contents of the bags are >99% purified water with a small amount of what is known as a ‘Super Absorbent Polymer’ called Sodium Polyacrylate. This polymer swells to absorb 200-300 times its own weight in water to create a ‘gel’.


What is Sodium Polyacrylate? Is it safe?

It is a sodium salt of polyacrylic acid, used in many applications for its water absorption characteristics. It is most commonly known for its use in baby nappies to absorb moisture, but has many other applications including in agricultural settings for water retention in soil. It is a safe and non-toxic substance. In our gel packs it is already fully hydrated, so does not pose any major risks through inhalation or ingestion. The gel contents are food safe. Copies of the COSHH assessment and MSDS are available on request.


How do you dispose of the gel in your packs?

The best way to dispose of our Ice-Pack coolants is to snip the corner of the bag and rinse the gel down the sink. The rinsed outer bag can then be recycled with other plastic films at your local supermarket or recycling point. The gel should simply drain down your sink and will be fully removed at your local wastewater treatment works.

The coolants can also be refrozen and reused, or the gel contents can be mixed with soil in your garden to help moisture retention around your plants.


Why don’t you just use water instead of mixing it into a gel?

The gel has several advantages over an equivalent water based pack: –

  • Leak protection: Even if a bag is punctured, the gel provides leak resistance, because of the size of the gel. This means that the gel cannot leave the bag as easily as water would and protects the integrity of the products it is shipped with.
  • Optimised and efficient manufacturing: The manufacturing process has been optimised using the gel, this reduces waste generated by manufacturing the packs, reducing the environmental footprint associated with this.
  • Less plastic per coolant: Because of the leak protection provided by the gel, a thinner bag film can be used, meaning less plastic used per coolant. This is resource efficient, and lowers the environmental footprint associated with the outer bag.
  • Inert – this means that the gel does not chemically react, therefore, has a very long shelf life, without degrading or developing bacteria which could make it unsafe.

However, for some applications we understand that water is preferred and we are working hard to develop a water pack for these customers, watch this space!


Why don’t you use an alternative thickening ingredient in the water that I can put into my compost bin?

We are actively researching alternative polymers, such as those from a plant based source, however these come with their own problems. Natural based ingredients can be more prone to bacterial formation, making then unsafe for our application. There are also difficulties with manufacturing the coolants with a plant based polymer. Plant based polymers will often come at a premium due to the scale of the supply chain for these, compared to existing supply chains. We are proactively working to reduce the footprint of our gel packs, whilst still maintaining their functionality.


I / my child / my pet has consumed some of your coolant contents by accident – what do I do?

Firstly, don’t panic. The contents of our coolant are non-toxic and non-hazardous, and the Sodium Polyacrylate is already hydrated. The gel itself is over 99% purified water. Whilst problems should not occur, we advise that you drink plentiful amounts of water, and monitor for any adverse side effects. If this does happen we advise that you consult with your medical professional.

If you have any questions or queries that haven’t been answered here, or if you just want to have a chat about our products, please contact the office by phone or email: 01978 661247 / [email protected].