Flexible Packaging VS Rigid Packaging: Making The Right Choice

Flexible Packaging VS Rigid Packaging: Making The Right Choice

When it comes to choosing the best packaging option for your products, there are many options to choose from. With the number of options available, it might become overwhelming for you to choose the perfect packaging option. However, the product packaging has two major categories – flexible packaging and rigid packaging. And all packaging types come under these broader categories.


But what is the difference between these two product packaging materials? There are some applications where flexible packaging is the superior choice, while there are applications where rigid packaging is a better option. Knowing the difference can help in making a well-informed decision.

In this blog, we shall discuss the difference between the types of packaging, and which is a better choice for your needs.

Flexible Packaging

Today, many big companies are opting for flexible packaging for their products rather than rigid containers or packaging. Beauty creams and ketchup have made a shift from a plastic or glass bottle or tub to squeeze pouches. Similarly, jellies, honey, toothpaste, and many other such products are now packed in flexible packaging.

The flexible packaging market is lately growing at a good rate. The main reason behind this is that product packaging is their first physical interaction with the product. And when consumers interact with the product through the packaging, they want it to be handy. Besides, flexible packaging is cost-efficient as well.

Flexible packaging is light in weight and reduces the costs associated with warehousing and shipping. It also enhances sustainability, increases shelf space, and improves graphics printing on packaging.

Pros of Flexible Packaging

  • Flexible packaging is environmental-friendly as it can be produced with less energy and transported easily.
  • Flexible packaging is easy to use and even has an easy to open facility as well. Some also come with peel and seal applications.
  • It is cost-efficient than rigid packaging.
  • Flexible packaging can be easily printed on, like graphics and text.
  • Flexible packaging is made with soft plastic.

Cons of Flexible Packaging

  • Flexible packaging may not be good for food items as it may affect flavors.
  • It has low resistance to temperature, especially high temperature.

Rigid Packaging

Notably, the market share of rigid packaging is higher than flexible packaging. As per a PDA report, the rigid packaging market is expected to cross $800 billion by 2024 while rigid is expected to reach $299 billion. Rigid packaging is important in many applications. Products like perfumes, spirits, and high-end beverages, as well as other health products, are most likely to be packaged in rigid packaging only. These products require extra protection that only rigid packaging can provide. However, for some products, rigid packaging is the consumer choice.

The beverage industry is limited to rigid containers like aluminum cans and plastic and glass bottles.

Pros of Rigid Packaging

  • Rigid packaging offer superior strength as it is made from hard plastic and other such material.
  • Some rigid packaging suggests a luxury impression as well.
  • It doesn’t affect food flavor as soft plastic is not used in its manufacturing.
  • It is made of easy to recycle material, like hard plastic and glass.

Cons of Rigid Packaging

  • Rigid packaging is comparatively expensive. Besides, it is also a costly affair to transport rigid packaging.
  • It has a higher carbon footprint.

Difference Between Flexible Packaging & Rigid Packaging

Rigid packaging is made of material that can’t be bend or forced out to be shaped in new material. It is not flexible, just that. Rigid packaging offers good structure and support to the products. It offers good strength as well. It can be paperboard or corrugated boxes, plastic bottles, glass jars and bottles, or aluminum cans. Popular applications of rigid packaging include glass bottles or aluminum cans of 3 soft drinks, cans of soup, cereal boxes, or corrugated boxes for packing other such items.

On the other hand, Flexible packaging is made of flexible material, literally. It can be bend easily without breaking. So, you can reshape it, fold it, or even bend it. Examples of flexible packaging include courier bags, stretch film rolls, paper wrappers, etc. Flexible packaging is available in different sizes and can be used for just any application.

Now back to the burning question again, which is the right packaging for you? Let’s have a look.

Strength & Durability

Both flexible packaging and rigid packaging have several benefits on offer. It only depends on the type of packaging you require. Typically, rigid packaging offers better protection to the products it is carrying. The containers are hard, and they keep the product safe from friction while transporting them from one place to another. They are stronger and heavy in weight. However, the downside of rigid packaging like glass is that it can be damaged or dented when dropped.

Flexible packaging is shatterproof and can’t be damaged or broken. But they can be punctured with a sharp object, as per their structure. Yet, the rigid packaging these days come with puncture-proof protection and can protect the products from spoilage, heat, oxygen, and light.

Environmental Factor

As far as an environmental factor is concerned, flexible and rigid packaging is different. Flexible packaging is produced with comparatively less energy, and it can be transported easily as well. When it comes to transporting them, since they are considerably light in weight, they can be shipped more in each truckload - leading to fewer runs with comparatively less energy and lesser CO2 emission. Besides, it also produces less product waste.

Rigid containers can be recycled. And in fact, it is said that around 50% of flexible material used for packaging can be recycled. The remaining half can be chemically recycled. Having said that, in some cases, rigid material can be easy to recycle or decompose. Many rigid containers can be recycled nowadays, and on that note, customers too are familiar with the types of containers that are recyclable.

Customer Preference

Many consumers like flexible packaging as they are cost-efficient and offer many environmental benefits as well. Flexible packaging is easy to open, use, and even serve. They are light in weight and are easy to carry, handle, and store. On top of that, most flexible packaging can be resealed and opened again and again until the product is entirely used. Thus, they are extremely convenient for consumers.

Flexible packaging like pouches and courier bags come in different sizes and applications. They are being widely used by many industries, like food and household.