Choosing the right packaging materials for your shipments is often more complicated than it might initially seem.
There are many different box structures to consider, different types of packaging materials, and of course, looking at the feasibility of different types of packaging materials for shipping.
Before thinking about packaging materials, take a moment to budget your costs and think about your product’s weight and dimensions.
This will help you understand the pure cost of just the materials and the shipping cost of the item itself.
We’ll first go into the basic structure of packaging materials and looking at which one might be the best option for you.
Corrugated vs. Rigid Packaging
One of the first considerations in deciding packaging materials for shipping is looking at the packaging’s actual structure.
What kind of box the item will be in largely depends on the item’s weight and dimension.
You’ll also need to think about the unboxing experience and what kind of packaging materials customers will enjoy and appreciate.
Made from three layers of brown kraft paper, corrugated cardboard boxes are the ones you’re likely most familiar with.
This tends to be one of the most common packaging materials.
Here’s why they continue to become popular across e-commerce and other industries:
- Protective structure with some cushioning qualities
- Lightweight = lower shipping costs
- Easily customizable
Corrugated packaging offers great durability for e-commerce businesses who rely on shipping their products directly to their customers.
With printing and finishing capabilities of this material being quite vast you’re able to use this as part of your marketing strategy to ensure your customers remember your brand!
Corrugated packaging allows for both exterior and interior printing.
Using this to your advantage as an e-commerce business is essential as it allows you to stand out in that crowded mail room or simply enhance the unboxing experience from the comfort of your customers’ homes.
Rigid packaging is made from the highest quality thick paper grade.
Rather than having a simple dieline that allows you to fold your box into shape, rigid packaging is a little more complex than that and requires a great deal of construction.
Each side of the box is individually wrapped, printed on and carefully assembled to create your box.
The production and construction of this type of packaging is what makes it so costly!
Although rigid packaging is costly, businesses opt for this packaging to communicate a high end luxury feel and to enhance the unboxing experience.
Furthermore, rigid packaging offers endless printing, finishing and design capabilities that will elevate your brand narrative and ultimately boost your sales!
According to Packmojo 61% of consumers say they are much more likely to repeat a purchase of a luxury product if it came in premium packaging.
Rigid packaging impacts the environment more than corrugated, since there are more components and processes needed to create this kind of packaging.
However, because rigid packaging is also known as ‘premium packaging’ or ‘luxury packaging’ customers are more likely to reuse and keep these types of boxes for other purposes in their homes!
Rigid packaging is a good option for:
- Luxury products
- Promoting reusable narratives
On the other hand:
- Not cost-effective
- Leads to a higher environmental impact to create the packaging
- Higher shipping costs
To better understand what packaging materials are right for you, you’ll need to think about how your product will be shipped and what kind of packaging will keep your product safest during transport.
We’ll now look at why sustainability is an important consideration when thinking about what types of packaging materials are the best option for you.
Importance of Sustainability
Sustainable packaging has come more into focus over the past few years as customers become more environmentally conscious.
Because of this increased demand for eco-friendly packaging materials, there has been considerable development in creating recyclable packaging materials that are beautiful and functional.
Specific industries like e-commerce businesses have been more sensitive to the shift and quickly adapted their packaging materials to become more eco-friendly.
Any custom packaging expert you work with should have sustainable materials available and should demonstrate a real commitment to ensuring lowered carbon footprints in their process, if you’re creating your packaging with your customers in mind.
If cost is a factor, bear in mind that research has found that customers are willing to pay higher premiums if they receive products in eco-friendly packaging materials.
So, it’s definitely worth investing in!
There are many available materials for packaging and great for reducing your impact on the environment, which we’ll go into more detail about below.
Types of Paper Grades
Clay Coated News Back
A seven-ply product, all of its layers are made from 100% recycled fiber. It’s one of the best recyclable packaging materials for;
- Loose and dry products
- Pet Foods
Keep in mind; If you’re looking to print your logo or a design onto the packaging, this may not be the best option as it has lower printing qualities.
Solid Bleached Sulfate
Solid bleached sulfate is paperboard, constructed from 100% virgin fiber.
Solid bleached sulfate is mainly used as packaging materials for food and cosmetics, among other industries.
This is an excellent option if you’re looking for eco-friendly packaging materials that allow for greater customization and printing as it’s a higher quality paper grade.
You can customize with unique details such as embossing, hot foil stamping, and Spot UV printing and much more!
Folding Box Board
Folding Carton is constructed by manually and chemically manufacturing multi-ply pulp material.
This packaging material tends to be stiffer, so it’s more of a multi-purpose packaging material that works across almost any industry.
Some of its primary uses today are in household products, cosmetics, and food!
The bleached chemical layer makes this an ideal recyclable packaging material since it allows for smooth and high-quality printing and finishing on its surface.
Kraft paper is named after the pulping process used to make this type of packaging material.
With the Kraft pulping process, wood is first grounded to a total pulp. This pulp is then treated with chemicals such as sulfates to form paper.
Completely eco-friendly, Kraft now has many types, each with its own benefits.
Types of Kraft
Natural Kraft tends to be one of the top choices for eco-friendly packaging materials, and it’s easy to see why.
Made from 100% recyclable materials, this type of packaging material is well-suited for transport and shipping because of its durability.
It’s best used for food-safe packaging, cosmetics, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.
Furthermore, this packaging material offers endless high quality printing and finishing capabilities similar to folding carton.
You also have to choice to use more eco-friendly coating and printing options such as Aqueous coatings.
Aqueous coatings are water based and therefore much more environmentally friendly and add a layer of this narrative to your packaging!
Coated Bleached Kraft (White Folding Carton) and Coated Unbleached Kraft
Both of these types of packaging materials are created from natural Kraft.
The only real difference is whether the packaging materials are bleached or not, but otherwise, these are very similar.
The White Folding and Coated Unbleached Kraft are lightweight options, making them a good choice for small packages that aren’t too heavy.
For the most part the cosmetics, food and apparel industries will opt for this option because of its cost effectiveness and versatile printing capabilities.
Coated Recycled Board
Coated Recycled Board is made from recycled newsprint, old corrugated boxes, and mixed paper to create packaging material.
This is made from 100% recyclable packaging materials, and because more than 35% of the packaging is recycled, it’s deemed post-consumer recycled packaging material.
Now that you know the types of eco-friendly packaging materials, here are some final thoughts to consider as you choose the right kind of packaging material for your product.
Ultimately, your packaging material does matter.
Eco-friendly packaging materials, coupled with strong design elements, help elevate your products and create a customer experience that will leave a lasting impression.
Attractive packaging makes a strong impression, so you can work with packaging experts to create custom packaging made from recyclable packaging materials that look good and are functional.
When working with packaging experts, do a deep dive on materials and how sustainable they are so you can communicate that to customers more effectively (and highlight your commitment to sustainability).
Depending on your budget and product, they can help you choose the most suitable and cost-effective packaging possible through cost and material optimization.