Types Of Packaging Materials – The Ultimate Guide

Packaging is the final step in the production process done to protect and preserve the finished product. The method of packaging varies depending on several factors including the type of product, and the durability of the product among others. You should therefore consider all of your product requirements to select the most appropriate packaging materials.

What are Packaging Materials?

Packaging materials are a diverse range of materials that are designed for the main function of covering and protecting the finished product. These materials come in a wide range of types and are designed in various shapes to accommodate different products. You may require more than one packaging material depending on your application.

How to Choose Packaging Materials

There are some factors that you should consider when selecting the most suitable application for your application. The factors you should consider include;

  • The main factor to consider is the features of your product such as fragility, shape, weight, shelf life of the product, and size.
  • You should factor in the overall economic implication of your package in terms of functionality, sustainability, aesthetics as well as cost.
  • The durability of the protective material as well as the level of protection it affords your product
  • You should opt for more environmentally friendly packaging that has a minimal negative impact on the environment.
  • It is important to get packaging that is in line with your brand’s appearance and values as well.
  • Ensure that the material you select has passed through all the set standards and is compliant with regulations.

Types of Packaging Materials

Packaging materials are generally classified into four broad categories these categories include;

Ø  Primary Packaging

There are several types of packaging materials under this category. Primary packaging is the initial packaging that encloses the product and interacts with the product. They include;

1. Laminated Pouches

This type of packaging is commonly designed using varying laminating materials.

Advantages

  • This packaging solution is typically designed from various materials. including plastic, paper, and aluminum.
  • This packaging material is durable with resistance to punctures, wear, abrasions, and tears.
  • They can be customized to enhance the visual appeal of your product while marketing your brand.
  • They are cost-friendly and are easy to use and can easily be stored.
Laminated Pouches
Laminated Pouches

Disadvantages

  • This type of packaging material is not microwave-friendly
  • Pouches are opaque which limits the visibility of the product through the material
  • It has an increased amount of solvent retention which is not ideal for all types of products
  • Some designs require curing time affecting the overall production process.

Application

This material can be used to package the following;

  • Food
  • Fresh produce
  • Medical items
  • Pharmaceutical drugs
  • Beauty products.

2. Plastic Containers

This is a dynamic and versatile packaging solution that is designed using various materials.

Plastic Container
Plastic Container

Advantages

  • They can be customized into different shapes and sizes.
  • The material has a long shelf life
  • It is relatively cheaper than other materials
  • Plastic containers are relatively lightweight and can easily be transported
  • The material has some resistance to chemicals and enhanced resistance to breakage, wear, and tears.

Disadvantages

  • Plastic is not biodegradable and has a negative environmental impact.
  • Plastic containers have been linked to health complications owing to the toxic chemicals present.
  • This packaging material has very limited resistance to heat
  • The packaging is fragile and can easily get damaged

Applications

  • Packaging electronics
  • Food packaging
  • Home Products Storage
  • Medical and pharmaceutical use
  • Water and beverages
  • Cosmetics

3. Thermoformed Products

This is a type of packaging material that are result of a material typically plastic undergoing shaping and designing using heat.

Thermoformed Product
Thermoformed Product

Advantages

  • These materials rely on heat to form the different packaging materials.
  • It is best suited for small-scale operations as it will be more cost-effective for you.
  • You can make any required modification without needing additional equipment
  • The resulting products are aesthetically pleasing which will make your product more appealing.
  • The packaging material is not only durable it is resilient and tamper-proof.

Disadvantages

  • This packaging material is only suitable for designs that feature thin walls
  • The resulting package may be uneven.
  • It is only compatible with intricate geometrical shapes.
  • The material may weaken as a result of the formation of webs or bubbles.

Application

  • Food and beverage packaging
  • Electrical and electronic devices
  • Agricultural products
  • Pharmaceutical products
  • Consumer goods and domestic appliances

4. Tin Can

This packaging material is designed from a fine steel sheet which is then covered with a layer of tin for enhanced durability and corrosion resistance.

Tin Can
Tin Can

Advantages

  • This material is very sturdy and robust which not only makes it durable but offers excellent protection for your product.
  • It can be customized to better suit your application requirements.
  • It has a remarkably long shelf life and is sustainable
  • The material is lightweight making the container easy to handle
  • It has an enhanced resistance to corrosion

Disadvantages

  • The material is susceptible to products with high levels of acidity
  • Is not ideal for complex shapes and can only accommodate limited designs

Applications

  • Food products
  • Beverages
  • Cosmetics
  • Diy applications
  • Promotional packaging

5. Parchment Paper

This a material created from a cellulose-based composite that undergoes further processing to enhance properties such as resistance to humidity and grease.

Parchment Paper
Parchment Paper

Advantages

  • This material can withstand increased temperatures making it heat-resistant
  • It provides a non-stick solution keeping your product intact.
  • It has an enhanced resistance to moisture
  • The material is breathable

Disadvantages

  • The material cannot be sealed using heat
  • It offers no protection against potentially damaging gases

Applications

  • Wrapping food and baked goods
  • Use for lining baking pans

6. Wet-Strength Paper

This paper undergoes chemical processing to enhance its resistance against disintegration and rupture when exposed to water.

Wet-Strength Paper
Wet-Strength Paper

Advantages

  • It has increased resistance to moisture
  • It can easily be customized to suit your brand identity through printing and labeling
  • The material can easily be recycled and is therefore sustainable

Disadvantages

  • The chemicals used to reinforce the paper can cause a negative environmental impact.
  • Reinforcing the paper poses a challenge when repulping.
  • Has a limited range of applications

Applications

  • Frozen foods
  • Beverage labels
  • Garment labels

7. Laminated Tubes

This is a combination of a plastic tube along with aluminum to create a heat and oil-resistant packaging material.

Laminated Tubes
Laminated Tubes

Advantages

  • Offers protection against moisture, air, dirt particles, and other possible contaminants
  • They can easily be customized to conform to your brand requirements
  • The material can be recycled making it sustainable
  • This material is flexible and easy to use
  • The material is also resistant to wrinkles and leaks ensuring that your product and the packaging remain intact

Disadvantages

  • It has a limited output
  • Branding done in terms of printing has limited durability
  • The material can easily be dented.

Applications

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics and personal care
  • Dental care
  • Natural products

8. Mono Cartons

These are packages that are designed using one sheet of cardboard.

Mono Cartons
Mono Cartons

Advantages

  • This material can protect your product during shipping and transportation
  • Cartons are relatively cheaper making them economically feasible
  • These packaging solutions can be customized to suit your application and you can also brand the material
  • The material can be recycled which makes it highly sustainable

Disadvantages

  • This material offers limited protection from adverse environmental factors.
  • The material is very prone to damage

Applications

  • Food products
  • Beverages and liquor
  • Cosmetics and personal care
  • Automobile parts
  • Pharmaceuticals

9. Retort Pouches

A retort pouch is a type of food packaging made from a laminate of flexible plastic and metal foils.

Retort Pouches
Retort Pouches

Advantages

  • The material is sturdy and affords the product protection from a wide range of adverse elements.
  • This packaging solution provides an economical friendly solution with a low carbon footprint
  • It can be personalized to better suit your application and brand.
  • They provide a lightweight packaging solution that is ideal even when space is limited.
  • It improves the visual presentation of your product making it more appealing while maintaining the quality of the product

Disadvantages

  • The single sheet can easily get damaged
  • It requires specialized machinery which may increase the production cost of your operations
  • This protective material has a limited range of applications

Applications

  • Food products
  • Beverages
  • Healthcare
  • Military rations

10. Paper-Foil Laminate

This is a material obtained from bonding paper and foil to create a foil-reinforced paper

Paper-Foil Laminate
Paper-Foil Laminate

Advantages

  • The material is durable and has an enhanced resistance to punctures and tears.
  • This packaging material can be easily customized and branded to suit your standards with a glossy finish that enhances the visual appeal of your product.
  • The protective cover protects against moisture, heat, and other harsh and damaging elements.
  • The sturdy cover keeps the product safe while maintaining its original quality.

Disadvantages

  • Multiple materials used make it difficult to recycle this material.
  • The materials used are not biodegradable and can negatively impact the environment

Applications

  • Food packaging
  • Customized packaging
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Cosmetics

11. Composite Cans

This is a multi-layered packaging material comprised of various materials such as cardboard, metal, plastics, and paper.

Composite Cans
Composite Cans

Advantages

  • All the different materials used to create this packaging solution are lightweight making the packaging portable
  • It provides protection for your products against various elements including, light, water, and other damaging factors.
  • You can personalize the design and label it to suit your brand
  • This packaging solution can be used for a wide range of applications

Disadvantages

  • This packaging material is susceptible to heat
  • Has no protection against harmful gases
  • Requires complex machines that may increase your cost of production

Applications

  • Food and beverage industry
  • Cosmetics and toiletries
  • Toys
  • Chemicals

12. Glass Containers

Glass containers are also commonly used as a packaging material for a wide range of products

Glass Containers
Glass Containers

Advantages

  • This material is an excellent way of preserving products as it contains no chemicals that alter the composition of your product ensuring it remains in its original state
  • The material can easily be broken down and therefore is easily recyclable
  • It enhances the visual appeal of your product with its numerous designs lending your product a luxurious finish.
  • It protects your products from potential contaminants such as air, moisture, and dirt.

Disadvantages

  • Glass containers are incredibly fragile and can easily crack or break.
  • The material requires more protective measures to ensure that it does not break during transportation and is also heavier.
  • These containers are generally more expensive to purchase.
  • Glass can only be manipulated to create a limited number of designs

Applications

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food and beverage
  • Industrial and chemical products
  • Cosmetic products

13. Shrink Film

This is a material designed using plastic polymers that rely on heat to seal it around objects

Shrink Film
Shrink Film

Advantages

  • It can be used for various applications including products with complex shapes
  • This protective film can protect your product from moisture, dirt, and dust among other contaminants.
  • This protective cover is durable and ideal for transporting your products.
  • It is relatively cheaper to purchase this material

Disadvantages

  • The material is not biodegradable and will harm the environment
  • It requires additional machines to pack and may raise your cost of production
  • This protective film can easily get damaged as it is fragile

Applications

  • Electrical and electronics
  • Home appliances
  • Toys
  • Sporting goods.
  • Food and beverages
  • Non-food products

14. Cling Film

This material is comprised of very fine plastic that is used to cover different product

Cling Film
Cling Film

Advantages

  • The material is easy to use and prevents leakage from your product
  • It is fairly cheap to purchase this material.
  • The protective film is stretchable and flexible
  • They prevent your product from getting contaminated
  • They are designed in various types that can be used for various applications.

Disadvantages

  • This protective film is not biodegradable
  • The material is not durable and can lose its clinging property
  • There are health concerns related to this material as it may leach chemicals or leave behind small pieces in the products.
  • Limited applications

 Applications

  • Food packaging
  • Household use

15. Woven Sack

These are bags designed from various types of fabric such as polypropylene that are woven together.

Wooven Sack
Wooven Sack

Advantages

  • These woven protective sacks are sturdy and have a long shelf life.
  • The sacks are very sustainable and can be repurposed and reused for a long time
  • You can personalize these bags to create through printing and branding
  • They protect your product from potentially damaging elements

Disadvantages

  • They are susceptible to moisture
  • These sacks are flammable
  • Compared to nonwoven counterparts, woven sacks are expensive to produce.

Applications

  • Agricultural products
  • Food products
  • Chemicals and hazardous materials
  • Construction industry

16. Jute Bags

Jute bags are packaging materials designed using natural fibers and come in a variety of shapes and sizes

Jute Bag
Jute Bag

Advantages

  • The fibers used are biodegradable and the packaging can be reused making it sustainable.
  • These bags are sturdy and can last for a long
  • They come in various designs and you can easily customize the nags to fit into the image of your brand
  • This package solution has a low carbon footprint

Disadvantages

  • They get easily damaged when exposed to moisture
  • The material is not food-grade
  • This material has limited flexibility
  • They are prone to creasing if folded

Applications

  • Promotional items
  • Retail Packaging
  • Agriculture industry
  • Construction materials

17. Intermediate Bulk Containers

These are heavy-duty containers designed for industrial applications involving packaging and transportation of bulk produce.

Intermediate Bulk Containers
Intermediate Bulk Containers

Advantages

  • It is an efficient method of packaging products as it utilizes fewer resources
  • The containers are designed to be strong ensuring that your product is well-protected even during transportation
  • It has an incredibly long shelf life ensuring
  • This packaging material can be reused and also repurposed making it sustainable
  • For large-scale production this packaging solution helps in saving the cost of production

Disadvantages

  • The initial cost of setting up and purchasing this material is relatively high
  • Given its size transporting it from one location to the next can be tedious and expensive
  • Flexible variations of this material are prone to breakages and leakages

Applications

  • Chemical industry
  • Food industry
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Agriculture industry
  • Construction industry

18. Bubble Wrap

This is a plastic film filled with air pockets that cushion fragile items and is used alongside other packaging materials.

Bubble Wrap
Bubble Wrap

Advantages

  • It protects your products by acting as insulation against impact
  • The material is lightweight and does not add a lot of weight to the product
  • The material can be reused making it sustainable
  • It is affordable to purchase
  • It is flexible and can be used with products of all shapes and designs

Disadvantages

  • The material is not biodegradable and is toxic to the environment
  • With its inflated pockets the material occupies space
  • This material is also flammable

Application

  • It is used to package and protect fragile products

Ø  Secondary Packaging

This is a packaging material used for storing and protecting individually packed products. The types of packaging material found in this category include

19. Plastic Crates

These are open-ended plastic containers used to package bulk produce. They are created in various designs and can incorporate other materials

Plastic Crates
Plastic Crates

Advantages

  • The material is strong and protects your products from direct impact.
  • It is typically fitted with handles that make it easier to handle
  • These crates are typically ventilated making them suitable for preserving fresh produce
  • They are very durable and can be reused, repurposed, or recyclable

Disadvantages

  • This storage container is not biodegradable
  • It only has a limited number of designs and cannot be easily personalized
  • This packaging material is not suitable for heavy-duty applications
  • It slowly degrades over time making it vulnerable to breakage

Applications

  • Agriculture Industry
  • Fisheries
  • Retail and Home Storage

20. Plastic Trays

These are packaging materials that feature a relatively flat and open surface designed using plastic

Plastic Trays
Plastic Trays

Advantages

  • They come in various designs that you can customize to suit your brand
  • The material is highly durable
  • These trays can be recycled and are therefore sustainable

Disadvantages

  • They offer limited protection for your product
  • They have a limited range of applications and capacity
  • This protective material degrades and weakens over time

Application

  • Food industry
  • Agriculture and fisheries
  • Industrial sectors
  • Retail and home use

21. EPS Trays

These are expandable trays designed from polystyrene and come in a variety of designs

EPS Trays
EPS Trays

Advantages

  • This material has shock absorbance and resistance and is robust and can therefore be reused
  • They are designed with both thermal and moisture resistance
  • These materials are light in weight and therefore easy to transport and also carry around
  • They can be recycled or you can repurpose the trays and reuse them for other functions

Disadvantages

  • The material is not biodegradable
  • Their heat resistance is limited
  • These materials contain toxic chemicals that may lead to health complications
  • They can easily break because they are brittle

Application

  • Electronic equipment and appliances
  • Food and seafood
  • Horticulture
  • General packaging

22. Wooden Crates

These are packaging materials designed from wood.

Wooden Crates
Wooden Crates

Advantages

  • The packaging material is strong and can be used for a long time
  • This crate variation is designed using biodegradable material making them environmentally friendly
  • The material is relatively cheaper compared to its counterpart designed from other material
  • You can personalize this material to suit your application requirements and your brand image
  • This crate’s main function is to keep your products intact during transit
  • The packaging solution is typically designed with gaps to offer proper ventilation for your products.

Disadvantages

  • The material has a moisture sensitivity and prolonged exposure often results in rotting and damaging of the material.
  • This material is a challenge when it comes to quality and consistency throughout production.

Applications

  • Storage and organization
  • Transportation
  • Retail displays

Tertiary Packaging

These are packaging materials that have no direct relation to the product but are useful during the transportation of the product

1. Corrugated Fiber Board

This is a packaging material that combines two different sections which are a flat liner and fluted medium.

Corrugated Fiber Board
Corrugated Fiber Board

Advantages

  • These boards are sturdy and keep your product intact during transit
  • The material is renewable making it ideal for the environment
  • You can easily personalize the packaging to best represent your brand.
  • This material is economically feasible
  • They are designed in various shapes and sizes

Disadvantages

  • The material does not offer protection against adverse weather conditions
  • They are highly susceptible to water and will easily get damaged when exposed
  • This material cannot withstand a lot of pressure

Applications

  • Shipping boxes
  • Point of purchase displays
  • Pizza boxes
  • Protective packaging
  • Retail Packaging

2. Wooden Pallet

These are flat packaging materials that are mainly used for securing your products during transportation.

Wooden Pallet
Wooden Pallet

Advantages

  • These pallets are designed to be able to handle a significant amount of weight.
  • The material is biodegradable and can also be reused and repurposed
  • Given their flat structures, they can be stacked on top of each other saving on storage space
  • You can customize their dimension to better suit your application
  • These materials protect your product from impact, vibration, and shock often encountered during transportation.

Disadvantages

  • This material weakens with time leaving it vulnerable to cracks, splinters, and breakages
  • The material can attract pests that may affect the quality of your produce
  • The packaging material itself is bulky and weighs more than similar products
  • This material has limited resistance to water

Applications

  • Bulk transportation
  • Long-term storage
  • Custom transport
  • Military and defense

3. Plastic Pallet

This a flat transportation used to protect packaged goods during transit and is designed from plastic.

Plastic Pallet
Plastic Pallet

Advantages

  • They are strong and can withstand pressure from the weight of your products
  • The plastic material used to design this packaging solution is relatively easy to clean
  • This material is lightweight compared to designs that feature wood or metal
  • You can recycle or reuse this material for a long time as it is also durable

Disadvantages

  • The plastic variation costs more than wooden pallets
  • They are more likely to succumb to extremely heavy loads
  • The material used is not biodegradable

Applications

  • Bulk transportation
  • Long-term storage
  • Custom transport
  • Food and pharmaceutical industries

Ancillary Packaging

The last category of packaging materials comprises accessories that are required to complete the packaging materials listed. These materials include;

1. Tapes

Tapes
Tapes

2. PP Straps

PP Strap
PP Strap

3. Cushioning Material

Cushioning Material
Cushioning Material
  1. Adhesives
  2. Printing inks
  3. Caps & closures
Caps and Closures
Caps and Closures

4. Labels

Labels
Labels

Conclusion

There are numerous types of packaging material most of which have been listed in this article. They type of packaging material suitable for you largely depends on the physical properties of your product. It is therefore important to understand the benefits and limitations of all the packaging solutions available to make informed decisions

More Resources:

Packaging Machines – Source: JOCHAMP

Thinking of the Best Types of Bottle Packaging – Source: JOCHAMP

Packaging History – Source: JOCHAMP

Scroll to Top