A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to 34 Key Packaging Materials

A Comprehensive Buyer’s Guide to 34 Key Packaging Materials


Different kinds of packaging materials are used to pack different types of items in various industries. These include plastic packaging, aluminium wraps, cardboard boxes, packaging made using paper, bio-plastic, and glass, etc. The packaging industry supports various kinds of businesses around the world by sufficing their precise packaging needs. The Packaging market of India is anticipated to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 26.7% during the period from 2020 to 2025. In this article, you will learn about the different types of packaging materials, their use, and their significance.

The Role and Necessity of Packaging Materials

Packaging materials are mainly designed to safeguard products. Different layers of packaging materials are used to protect different kinds of items in order to retain their original form. Pharmaceuticals, textiles, food, and electronics are among the many industries that cannot function without the use of high-quality packaging. Most consumer products are susceptible to damage owing to external factors like dust, moisture, and sunlight. They require multiple layers of protection, and that’s where the packaging industry comes into the picture. Packaging industries manufacture a variety of packaging materials. These are used to cover and wrap different items so that they can be stored and shipped safely.

Primary, Secondary, Tertiary, and Ancillary Packaging: A Classification Overview

There are 34 key packaging materials, and they have broadly been classified into 4 different categories. Here is a look at these categories and the packaging materials that come under each group:

  • Primary Packaging Materials
  • Primary packaging forms an essential part of the pharmaceutical, food, beverage, and various other industries that sell perishable items. This type of packaging comes in direct contact with the product and thus has to be of high quality. Its purpose is to keep the product safe to use. Here are some of the materials used for primary packaging:

    • Plastic Containers

    Many products come packed in plastic containers. The plastic containers used nowadays are mostly reusable and hence are also environment-friendly.

    • Glass Containers

    Glass containers are mostly used to pack mineral water, beverages, medicines, cosmetic products, etc.

    • Immediate Bulk Containers

    These are used to carry heavy items such as cement, fertilizers, and even food products. 

    • Tin Cans

    These are commonly used in the food and beverage industry. High-quality tin cans keep food items and drinks safe for months. 

    • Composite Cans

    These cans have multiple layers that provide sturdiness and keep the product safe. Usually used to pack dry snacks.

    • Wet-Strength Paper Bags

    These bags are known for their sturdiness and are used for packing cold products and in beverage label packaging. They are biodegradable, thus, their use helps reduce carbon footprints. 

    • Jute Bags

    These are used to pack coffee and cocoa beans, grains and pulses, nuts, etc.

    • Laminated Pouches

    Made using polymer or thin plastic, these pouches are used to seal the items tightly inside. They are used to cover and protect photos, ID cards, and many other documents.

    • Laminated Tubes

    They are used to pack ointments, toothpaste, and creams. The material is resistant to heat and oil. Heat sealing is mostly used to close one end of this packaging material, and a cap is used on the other. 

    • Laminated aluminium foil paper

    This is used to wrap chocolates and certain other food items.

    • Thermoformed Products

    These are made using thermoplastics and are mainly used to wrap electronic items. The material can be moulded into any form by heating it. This helps to match different packaging requirements.

    • Retort Pouches

    These are made of metal and plastic. Retort pouches are used to pack different food items and drinks. 

    • Parchment Papers

    Parchment papers find use in the baking industry. They are used to wrap muffins, cookies, sweets, and many other such food items.   

    • Paper Boxes

    Paper boxes are the widely used packaging materials. Available in different sizes and shapes, they are a cost-effective and lightweight packaging solution. You can opt for paper boxes with lamination to guard against moisture.

    • Shrink Wrap

    This is used to seal various items tightly together so that they remain intact during moving and storing.

    • Cling Wrap

    It is a plastic wrap used to cover perishable foods such as salads, burgers and sandwiches. It prevents these items from coming into contact with dust, moisture, and other pollutants.

    • Bubble Wrap

    This much-in-demand packaging material is wrapped around delicate items to prevent them from cracking or breaking during transport. It is readily available in the market.

    • Woven Sack

    These robust sacks are mainly used to store and ship food grains, vegetables, and fruits.

  • Secondary Packaging Materials
  • The following materials are used in secondary packaging, which acts as an extra protective layer:

    • Plastic Crates

    These durable yet lightweight crates are used for packing different kinds of goods, including tin cans, plastic containers, glass containers, and more.

    • Wooden Crates

    These are sturdy containers used for storing and shipping food items, beverages, etc, in a safe and secure manner.

    • Plastic Trays

    These are used to stack items and transport them with ease.

    • EPS Trays

    EPA trays have insulation properties, hence, these are used to pack temperature-sensitive items.

  • Tertiary Packaging Materials
  • Various types of tertiary packaging materials are listed below.

    • Corrugated Fibre Board

    Corrugated fibre board is made of fluting sandwiched between flat line boards. It is used for shipping boxes, retail displays and packaging, etc. It offers cost-effective shipping.

    • Wooden Containers

    They are available in several forms, like boxes and bins. These strong and durable containers are used to keep goods safe during transportation.

    • Wooden Pallet

    These are traditional packaging materials designed to store and transport goods in a safe and secure manner.

    • Plastic Pallet

    It is a lightweight packaging for packing items like food products and pharmaceuticals. The material is resistant to moisture and various chemicals.

  • Ancillary Packaging Materials

  • Ancillary packaging materials include the following:

    • Adhesives – This essential packaging material is used to paste together different materials so that they are affixed tightly.

    • Tapes – Tapes are used in packaging to fasten the items intact so that they can be shipped easily and safely.

    • Printing Inks – It is used to print essential information on the packages. This helps in segregating the items with ease.

    • Labels – Labels work better on certain materials as compared to printing inks. Moreover, they are easier to affix. They are used mostly for the same purpose as the ink, and that is to write important information on the package. 

    • PP Straps – They are needed to securely bundle up packages and transport them with ease.

    • Caps – Caps are used to seal packaging materials such as tubes, containers, and bottles.

    • Cushioning Material – This is mostly used for securing delicate goods such as glassware and electronic items. Cushioning is done before packing these items with different types of packaging materials to prevent breakage. 

    Key Considerations in the Selection of Packaging Materials

    Here are some of the things that you must consider while selecting packaging materials for your products:

    • Quality of material
    • Strength and durability
    • Ease of use
    • Legal compliance
    • Cost
    • Printable 
    • Environment friendly 


    Packaging materials are utilised by almost all businesses. Packaging quality can have a great influence on customer satisfaction. So, it is essential to deliver the products in perfect tamper-free packaging. Packaging materials come in a wide range to match different requirements. Using the appropriate packing material is essential to ensure the safe transportation of a particular good. It is important to choose a packaging material carefully to ensure that it fits your requirements well.


    1. What are some of the affordable packaging materials?

    Some affordable yet efficient packaging materials are corrugated cardboard boxes, plastic crates and bubble wraps. 

    1.  Are there any established guidelines for the use of specific packaging materials for particular products?

    Yes, there are certain industry standards pertaining to particular sectors regarding the use of packaging materials for their products. Strict regulations are in place for packing medicines, food items, etc.

    1. What are some environment-friendly packaging materials?

    Some eco-friendly packaging materials are paperboard boxes, jute bags, biodegradable plastic packages, and reusable glass containers.