In this age of mass production of consumer goods, the packaging is a critical step in the manufacturing process because this is ultimately the form that the consumer who buys the product will see and put in the shopping cart. As such, it is important that the packaging is appropriate for the product and attractive to the consumer.
As important as the packaging systems that handle the final forms of the manufactured goods are the consumable materials used for the actual packaging. The type of material used would depend on the kind of product that will be packaged. Below are the most common materials used:
This is the most environmentally-friendly packaging material because it is both biodegradable and recyclable. It is primarily used as the final storage for products that have already been packaged like canned goods. A more durable packaging material derived from cardboard is the corrugated box, which can be stacked.
Highly-recyclable, glass is the most popular material used to store liquid products such as wine, soft drinks, and beer. It is also used for such products as jams, jellies, peanut butter, and mayonnaise. It is also, quite fragile, so extra handling care is given this material.
Plastic is the most popular among all the packaging materials and is used for a wide variety of products. It is the primary material for food products because it prevents liquid products from spilling, keeps perishable products fresh longer, and prevents fragile products like eggs from breaking. It is also used as protective materials for fragile non-food items like electronic goods.
Tin is a good packaging material for long-term storage of perishable meat, poultry, and fish products, as well as milk and other dairy products. Aluminium, on the other hand, is used for such products that are best served cold like soft drinks and beer. While costly, this material has a very high degree of recyclability that is both good for the environment as well as production cost.
Certain heavy and fragile products need extra protection during their delivery. As such, although not easily recyclable, it is the material of choice for packaging of television sets, refrigerators and other appliances because it can be form-fitted to the product.
To help you choose the right consumable packaging materials, the following guide questions may be asked:
- What will be packaged? Food? Non-food?
- What is the durability of the product? Sturdy? Fragile?
- What is the shelf-life of the product? Days? Months? Years?
- Is this the primary or secondary (i.e., packaging for an already packaged material).