10 Types of Packaging
Packaging is an integral part of product design and marketing. As a consumer, you likely encounter various types of packaging every day, including grip seal bags. Understanding the different categories and materials used in packaging can help you make informed choices and reduce waste. This article will explore 10 common types of packaging and their key characteristics.
Paper and Cardboard
Paper and cardboard packaging comes from renewable resources like wood pulp or recycled paper waste. It’s lightweight, easy to print on, and recyclable. Paperboard and corrugated cardboard are stiff, sturdy materials often used for boxes and cartons. Examples include cereal boxes, egg cartons, and packaging for appliances. Paper bags and envelopes are also paper packaging.
Metal cans, foils, and containers are impermeable to light, gases, and bacteria. This makes metal ideal for food packaging and aseptic purposes. Aluminum and steel cans are frequently used for canned food, beverages, aerosol products and more. Metal containers are durable, but not as lightweight as plastic. Recycling metal packaging saves significant energy.
Glass packaging is nonporous, rigid, and made from recycled glass or sand. It’s typically used for food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The impermeable and transparent properties of glass help maintain product safety and quality. However, glass is heavy, fragile, and costs more to ship than other materials. Most glass containers can be reused or recycled.
Plastic packaging is lightweight, affordable, and can be molded into many shapes. There are many types of plastics used in packaging, such as PET, HDPE, LDPE, PP and more. Plastic bottles, containers, bags, and films dominate the packaging industry because plastic is convenient, customizable, and durable. However, most plastics are made from fossil fuels and contribute to pollution. Look for recyclable symbols on plastic packaging.
Bioplastics are made from renewable plant sources rather than fossil fuels, so they are more eco-friendly than conventional plastics. Bioplastics like PLA can decompose under industrial composting conditions. However, very few facilities exist to properly compost these materials. Look for plant-based bioplastic packaging made from PLA, cellulose, wheat bran, and other renewable materials as an alternative to petroleum-based plastics.
Textile packaging includes bags, pouches, wrappers and sacks made of natural fibers like cotton, jute, and hemp. Textile packaging is breathable, flexible, and can provide padding to protect contents. Burlap sacks, cotton bags, and woven packaging are often reusable and biodegradable. Using renewable textile packaging helps reduce plastic waste.
Aluminum foil is made from thin sheets of aluminum rolled into a lightweight, flexible material. The shiny, impermeable foil blocks moisture, light, oxygen, and bacteria. Foil is used for food wrapping, air barriers in packaging, lids, liners, and storage. Although recyclable, uncoated foil is hard to process at recycling facilities. Go for thicker, coated papers instead of standard foil to reduce waste.
Corrugated plastic sheets consist of two parallel plastic walls separated by hollow columns running perpendicular across them. The columns provide cushioning and structure. Corrugated plastic is used when more durability and rigidity is needed versus paperboard. It’s water-resistant but usually not biodegradable. Look for recycled plastic or recyclable symbols if choosing corrugated plastic packaging.
Cloth bags are a reusable packaging option often made from natural fibers like cotton, jute, and canvas. They are durable, customizable, and sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags. Promoting reusable cloth bags and shopping totes helps reduce waste. For disposable textile packaging, choose unbleached and untreated natural cloth materials when possible.
Biodegradable packaging can be broken down through natural biological processes and composting. They are made from plant materials like cellulose, cornstarch, banana leaves, coconut husks, mushrooms and more. Some biodegradable plastics made from PLA also exist. Using compostable packaging helps divert waste from landfills and reduces plastic pollution.
Vacuum Skin Packaging
Vacuum skin packaging (VSP) uses vacuum pressure to adhere thin plastic film tightly to the product shape. The tight seal removes oxygen and extends food shelf life. However, VSP plastic is difficult to recycle. New water-soluble VSP films made from seaweed extract help makes this packaging biodegradable.
The packaging industry continues to evolve with new sustainable solutions. When choosing packaging, consider factors like material types, recyclability, durability, and manufacturing processes. Support companies that utilize renewable materials, practice ethical sourcing, and aim for circular economies. Your choices as a consumer can help drive positive change in packaging design and reduce environmental impacts.