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Exploring Your Options: Understanding the Different Types of Packaging Materials

The global product packaging market is set to reach a value of $50 billion by 2022. No matter what the product, it will need packaging of some sort before it’s ready for introduction into the consumer market. 

There are several packaging materials available for businesses to choose from. But you can’t just choose the one that you like. Choosing the right packaging can mean the difference between success or failure. 

Consider these different options when choosing a material for your product. 


The most common material chosen by companies selling products is plastic. With the plastic category, resin is the most popular. This is because it can be either rigid or flexible. 

Two examples where resin is used is in soda containers and egg cartons. This clear plastic is solid enough to hold the liquid and eggs but also flexible. 

Poly Bags 

These bags are manufactured from a thin plastic film that acts more like a fabric. They’re used for everything from food, to flowers, to magazines. 

Because the material is cheap to make and super lightweight, it’s easily customized to your specific needs. The bags can be reused and recycled. 

You also have a variety of options for shelf displays. You could have it stand, have carrying handles, or hanging holes. 


The most traditional form of product packaging is glass. It’s still used for many foods and beverage packaging. Some common products you’ll see packaged in glass are pickles, honey, and alcohol. 

Glass makes for excellent packaging because it can tightly seal perishable items. It requires a bit more care since it’s more fragile than other options. 


Walk down any grocery store aisle, and you’re bound to run into a product that uses cardboard for its packaging. You’ll find that there are different levels of cardboard. Some products only require lightweight, thin cardboard, while others use sturdier weight cardboard. 

You can identify cardboard by its characteristic three layers. There are two outside layers and one inside fluted layer. The sturdiness of the cardboard is determined by the level of fluting of the inner layer. 

An example of very sturdy cardboard packaging would be pizza boxes. 

Paperboard Boxes 

This is a lightweight form of cardboard that is easily manipulated to create customized packaging. It’s made from fibrous materials like recycled paper or wood. It’s ground into a pulp, formed, and then bleached. 

With the right treatment, you can create high-end looking packaging without having to spend top dollar. You’ll often find that cosmetics companies use this material for packaging.  


This lightweight metal is most often used when packaging soda, beer, and canned goods. Aluminum tends to be one of the more expensive options for product packaging. 

Because of this, most industries encourage the recycling of canned goods. This not only saves money but also is better for the environment. 


Foam packaging is less common when it comes to items you’d find in the grocery store. But it’s commonly used for packaging electronics and other consumer goods.

Foam works well to protect products that have sharp edges that could puncture or cut plastic and cardboard. Most products that use foam packaging also use another material to protect the foam.  

Multiple Materials 

For many products, multiple materials get used to ensure that the product makes it safely in one piece to the consumer. For example, plastic or foam is used to secure the product. Then cardboard is wrapped around the foam or plastic as the outside packaging material. 

Choose the Right Material for Your Product 

When considering the many different packaging solutions, it can help to work with a packaging company. They can help guide you towards the right packaging solution for your product. 


It doesn’t matter what material you choose; if you can’t afford it, it won’t work. So start by figuring out how much you can afford for packaging. 

Keep in mind that volume will play a large roll in this. After all, the larger the volume, the cheaper the per-item price will be. 


Consider the size of the package you’ll end up with. It needs to work for both your budget and product size. You also need to consider the retail store shelves and shipping. 

Your finished package needs to fit on the store shelves easily, or retailers won’t want to carry your product. Your package also needs to be easily shipped. In a world of e-commerce, consumers expect to be able to buy your product online and have it shipped to them. 


Think about the impact your packaging will have on the environment. To do this, try to use materials that are recyclable, minimal, or biodegradable. You can also consider using recycled products for your initial packaging. 

This will help your company have a minimal harmful footprint while also appealing to the consumer who finds sustainability to be a priority. 


The finished package needs to fit with your branding. If your branding is more quaint and wholesome, then you won’t want a sleek and shiny package. Similarly, if your brand is sleek and modern, you want your packaging to fit this image. 

Compare Packaging Materials for Your Product 

Choosing the right packaging can make or break the launch of your product. It’ll save you money, appeal to retailers, and identify with your customers. 

Compare several packaging materials before making your choice. It’s best to work with a packaging service that can create mockups for you to touch and handle. 

Browse our other business articles for more advice on setting your business up for success.