In an economy that consumes millions of products a year, businesses must choose the right type of packaging to suit their product and its specific needs. Flexible packaging covers lightweight bags or pouches, and rigid packaging is at the other end of the spectrum, covering the likes of tin cans and cardboard or plastic boxes.
It’s important to remember that packaging has many essential functions. When choosing what type of packaging to use for products, the main thing businesses should consider is how much protection the item needs. Every product needs to be transported from the factory, to the shop, to the consumer without getting damaged or losing its integrity.
As well as being protective, packaging should prevent spillages and contamination, allow for easy handling and merchandising, and provide enough display space for the business branding and any relevant information required.
The volume of packaging used worldwide has continued to grow as a larger range of products become available and methods of purchasing such as online shopping become commonplace. This packaging contributes to the total amount of domestic waste and can be seen as damaging to the environment.
It is therefore important that business owners look at ways to reduce packaging and the impact it has on the environment while maintaining the necessary qualities.
Types of packaging
Flexible and rigid packaging are the two main types of packaging that most businesses consider for their products: flexible packaging, which is often lightweight bags and pouches commonly used for food and cosmetics, or rigid packaging, which are usually cans, boxes, and glass bottles used for fragile items or things that need a higher degree of protection.
Flexible packaging is more lightweight than rigid packaging and can be used for softer products that are not easily damaged. There are many benefits to lightweight packaging for both the consumer and the manufacturer.
For example, the materials used to create the packages can be printed on and altered easily, allowing businesses to adapt these to suit their needs and branding. In addition, lightweight, flexible packaging costs much less to manufacture and transport. Plus, consumers can enjoy a well-preserved product that takes up minimal space in their home, as well as additional convenience with easy open and resealable closures.
On the other hand, rigid packaging is heavier and more expensive to manufacture but provides much better outer protection for the products inside. Often the products being transported in rigid packaging are high-value items such as phones, computers, and other electronics. Therefore, the increased manufacturing cost is still minimal in comparison to the price of the product inside.
Businesses need to consider both the environmental impact and consumer habits when choosing how to package their product. According to a study, 66% of customers feel that overall, products are over-packaged, with many believing this is bad for the environment.
Packaging is seen as convenient, hygienic, and protective but also potentially wasteful and damaging to the environment. Reducing the overall amount of packaging used is a vital step in reducing the environmental impact, however, each style of packaging has its pros and cons.
Flexible packaging takes up less space in transport, reducing the number of vehicles used and the amount of fuel consumed. Changing from rigid to flexible could be up to 95% less packaging. However, often these packages are made up of a combination of materials that make them difficult to recycle leading to some of the products ending up in a landfill.
When looking at rigid packaging, it can take up significantly more room in transit. For example, it would take 26 trucks to transport empty glass jars yet only one truck to transport the same number of lightweight empty pouches. However, rigid packaging is often much more widely recycled.
Choosing the Right Packaging
As well as looking at the environmental impact of packaging and what consumers want, businesses must remember to choose packaging that works for their product.
While both products have their benefits and drawbacks, many businesses are moving towards lightweight packaging. In fact, the flexible packaging industry is predicted to grow by 3.95% and reach a value of $299 billion by 2024 with recent trends showing that 49% of brand owners are switching to flexible packaging to reduce costs.
Ultimately, this form of packaging reduces costs and helps businesses meet their targets to reduce CO2 and their carbon footprint. It can also improve the brand’s image with consumers as more people are encouraged to recycle and choose products with less packaging.
According to the Future of Global Flexible Packaging to 2020 from Smithers Pira “flexible packaging has been one of the fastest-growing packaging sectors over the past 10 years, thanks to increased consumer focus on convenience and sustainability, and this rapid development will continue to accelerate”.
At Tyler Packaging, we specialise in flexible packaging solutions made from paper and plastic that are suitable for human food, pet food, garden & leisure and industrial products. Our range includes pre-made pouches, bags, and sacks which can be easily customised to suit each individual business’s needs.
As well as having a large number of packaging solutions for businesses to choose from, we go further with our service. We offer a 3D online service where the final product can be visualised before ordering and a stock management system to make sure the packaging is ready when needed.