Product packaging is more important than many people think, with 72 percent of consumers saying it influences their purchasing decisions. It’s easy to see why this is the case, given that packaging is the first interaction consumers have with a product. Your product packaging tells your brand’s story before a shopper has the opportunity to use the product itself.

One of the most important aspects of product packaging is the material you use. Different types of packaging materials have different qualities. Each has its own pros and drawbacks.

In today’s post, we outline the six most common packaging materials available today. Read on to learn more.

Plastic

Plastic is arguably the most widely used packaging material in the world currently. 40 percent of the 380 million tons of plastic produced in a year used to make packaging.

Plastic packaging comes in a variety of options. Some businesses opt for large clamshell containers. Others use packing peanuts.

Whichever type of plastic packaging you opt for, you can expect to reap many of the benefits which come with this material. For instance, plastic is remarkably lightweight and quite affordable. The packaging material can also be molded into just about any shape you want.

People who use plastic also love the fact that plastic can be directly labeled or decorated. Besides, the material can be impact resistant and is heat sealable.

But plastic does have its drawbacks as well. For instance, the material can melt as temperatures rise. Besides, no plastic can provide absolute moisture and a gas barrier.

The chemical resistance of plastic also varies. Another drawback is that plastic contains additives that can contaminate products. Plastic is also very difficult to recycle, with only 9 percent of all plastic recycled.

Glass

Another widely used packaging material is glass, especially when it comes to packaging liquid products. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and liquid medical supplies are some of the products packaged and shipped in glass containers.

What makes glass one of the best packaging materials is the fact that it is nonporous and nontoxic. Thus, it’s ideal for food, beverages, and other products meant for consumption.

Glass is also the perfect barrier to moisture, gas, and pressure. As a result, you can expect your products to stay fresh and preserve their flavor for a long time. The material is also transparent, which means shoppers can see the product clearly.

People also love the fact that gas can be molded into a vast array of shapes. The material is also highly recyclable.

The biggest disadvantage of glass is the fact that it’s highly fragile, which makes it difficult to ship products as they’re more likely to break in transit. Besides, the fact that glass is transparent means that the material is unsuitable for products that can get degraded by light.

Steel

Still isn’t one of the materials for packaging you encounter frequently. The material is more commonly used when it comes to shipping massive quantities of products, especially within industrial manufacturing. Steel packaging usually uses steel drums and shipping containers.

There are many benefits of using steel for your packaging needs, including the fact that the material is strong and rigid. It is thus incredibly durable and can handle tough handling, harsh weather conditions, and incredibly heavy loads.

Steel also forms a foolproof barrier to moisture and gas, meaning that your products stay in great condition. The material is also highly resistant to heat, pressure, and corrosion. Moreover, steel is highly recyclable, which is good for the environment.

The main drawback of steel is the fact that it is heavy. Besides, it’s not always easy to achieve as many shapes as you can using other packaging materials, such as plastic and glass.

Aluminum

Aluminum packaging includes aluminum foil, cans, and aerosol. The material is extremely resistant to corrosion and offers exceptional protection from UV, light, air, and oils. The material is also remarkably light, durable, and hygienic.

Because of aluminum’s non-toxic nature, many people use it for packaging food products and medications.

Like steel and glass, aluminum is highly recyclable.

Wood

Wood packaging is fairly popular for transporting a variety of products, including groceries, beverages, foods, and construction items. Common examples of wood packaging include pallets, drums, boxes, and bins.

One of the pros of using this type of packaging is the fact that you can reuse the same packaging numerous times. When damaged, the packaging material is also easy to repair. Once the packaging material reaches the end of its life, it’s entirely compostable, making it eco-friendly.

The major disadvantage of wood is that it can harbor pests. The material is also prone to insect damage and rot.

Paper, Paperboard, and Cardboard

Besides plastics, packing paper is arguably the most commonly used packaging. Boxes made from paper, paperboard, and cardboard are especially common for packaging different products in just about every industry.

Paper packaging is easy to print on. It is also completely renewable, frequently reusable, and easily recyclable. And for those looking for structurally stable packaging material, corrugated cardboard is ideal.

The fact that paper is lightweight, flexible, and inexpensive is also very appealing to many companies.

However, it is important to note that, compared to other packaging materials in this list, paper is the least sturdy. The packaging material may also be destroyed when exposed to moisture and easily combustible.

Choose the Right Types of Packaging Materials for Your Products

Making the right decision when it comes to the types of packaging materials to use in your business can ensure success when distributing and selling your products. Carefully weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each material to gauge its suitability for your needs.

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