What is Packaging? Definition, Types, Functions, Types of Packaging Material

  • Post last modified:15 May 2023
  • Reading time:20 mins read
  • Post category:Supply Chain
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What is Packaging?

Packaging is the basic necessity of every product. Without packaging the product cannot be stored or moved from one location to another. Packaging provides an identity to the product.

Therefore, packaging is the process of providing a protective and informative covering to the product in such a way that it protects the product during material handling, storage and movement and also provide useful information to all the concerned parties about the content of the package.

Thus, in other words, packaging can be defined as the wrapping material around a consumer item that serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote and otherwise make the product marketable and keep it clean.

Definition of Packaging

Packaging: Packaging is the process of providing a protective and informative covering to the product in such a way that it protects the product during material handling, storage, and movement and also provides useful information to all the concerned parties about the content of the package.

Characteristics of Good Packaging

Packaging is more than just your product’s pretty face. Your package design may affect everything from breakage rates in shipment to whether stores will be willing to stock it. These are the characteristics of good packaging:

  1. Labeling
  2. Opening
  3. Size
  4. Durability


You may be required to include certain information on the label of your product when it is distributed in specific ways. For example, labels of food products sold in retail outlets must contain information about their ingredients and nutritional value.


If your product is one that will be distributed in such a way that customers will want to–and should be able to–sample or examine it before buying, your packaging will have to be easy to open and to reclose. If, on the other hand, your product should not be opened by anyone other than the purchaser–an over-the-counter medication, for instance- -then the packaging will have to be designed to resist and reveal tampering.


If your product must be shipped a long distance to its distribution point, then bulky or heavy packaging may add too much to transportation costs.


Many products endure rough handling between their production point and their ultimate consumer. If your distribution system can’t be relied upon to protect your product, your packaging will have to do the job.

Functions of Packaging

There are many of the functions of packaging of the product performs. Some of the important ones are mentioned below:

  1. Protection
  2. Unitize
  3. Convenience
  4. Contain


Protection of product during handling, movement and storage. Prevents any damage by avoiding shifting, movement or collision of products inside the package during handling and movement. There should be protection of the product from environmental effects such as heat, cold, moisture etc. It should also be tamper proof to prevent any kind of adulteration.


Unitize to convert the package in to a unit load. It helps in ease of storage and handling. There is fuller utilization of storage space and also time and efforts can be saved during handling, loading and unloading if the packages are of uniform size.


Convenience the package should be convenient from logistical and consumer point of view. Logistical convenience deals with handling and storage. Consumer convenience deals with easy to open, easy to carry, etc.


Contain the package should be designed in such a way that it contains the predetermined volume or quantity of the product comfortably.

Factors Affecting Packaging

Along with the functions mentioned above, there are some other factors which also affect the packaging such as:

  1. Purpose of packaging
  2. Nature of Product
  3. Distance
  4. Material Handling System
  5. Product Sensitivity

Purpose of packaging

Type of packaging will depend on the purpose of packaging. Packaging for logistical purpose will be different from packaging for marketing (i.e. consumer) purpose.

Nature of Product

Packaging for different types of products will be different. Physical form of the product (i.e. solid, liquid, gas) will decide which type of packaging would me more appropriate. Even for product having same physical form say liquid, different types of packages e.g. cans, bottles, tetra packs etc. will be available.


Packaging may also depend upon transportation distance. Longer distance would require tougher as well as more protective packaging.

Material Handling System

Packaging should be decided keeping in mind what type of material handling system is to be used. Mechanized and automated systems are capable of handling large-sized packages whereas manual material handling will require the size of the packages to be smaller.

Product Sensitivity

Sensitivity of the product towards, physical environment and outside elements should also be considered. Some products are more sensitive to temperature (heat and cold), moisture (humidity), dust, chemicals, etc.

Types of Packaging

These are types of packaging which is mentioned below:

  1. Paper and Carton Packaging
  2. Film Packaging
  3. Foam Packaging
  4. Textile Packaging
  5. Plastic Boxes and Containers

Paper and Carton Packaging

Paper and carton packaging is used for different types of goods (food, electronics, toys, shoes, kitchenware and even other packaging materials). Paper and carton packaging companies produce wrapping paper, inflated paper, sheets, boxes, tubes, pallets, interlayers, corners, edges and custom protective systems (depending on the dimension and shape of the packed good, the carton is cut and modeled to fix and protect the product).

Paper can be used to laminate other materials in order to make them stronger. There is also anticorrosive paper that can be used to wrap goods or to laminate other materials.

Film Packaging

There are multiple types of films used in the packaging industry, most commonly polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyolefin and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) films. The films usually come on a roll and are used to wrap goods, cover goods, protect boxes and make other packaging products (such as bags, tubes, bubble wrap and sheets).

Films can be used for lamination, printed or perforated. They can be anticorrosive, antistatic, shrinkable or nonshrinkable, and slippery or nonslippery.

Foam Packaging

Foam used for packaging can be produced on a roll or in sheets of different thicknesses. The foam is used to wrap goods or make bags (usually laminated with high-density PE), corners, edges and custom systems. The corners and edges are used to protect flat glass, furniture and sharp edges.

Foam can be cut and modeled on the product’s shape to fix and protect it. It can be antistatic and has good insulation properties.

Textile Packaging

There are some goods that are best protected by textiles. For example, there are custom-made textile insertions used in the automotive industry to protect car parts during transportation. The textile insert is put on a metal frame that fits into a metal container. There is also textile material used for box covers.

Plastic Boxes and Containers

Multiple types of plastic boxes and containers are used in all industries. For example, in the food industry there are plastic containers for goods like ketchup, yogurt, milk and juices. Plastic boxes are mainly used for transporting goods and are reusable.

Types of Packaging Material

These are the types of packaging material which mentioned below:

  1. Glass
  2. Metals
  3. Rubbers
  4. Plastics
  5. Fibrous Materials
  6. Foils, Films and Laminates
  7. Blister Pack
  8. Textile


  • Glass has been widely used as a drug packaging material.
  • Glass is composed of sand, soda ash, limestone, and cullet.
  • Si, Al, Na, K, Ca, Mg, Zn & Ba are generally used in the preparation of the glass.

The production of glass containers involves heating a mixture of silica (the glass former), sodium carbonate (the melting agent), limestone (calcium carbonate) and alumina (stabilizers) to high temperatures until the materials melt into a thick liquid mass, which is then transferred to molds.


  • Metals are the most versatile of all forms of packaging.

  • They offer the combination of excellent physical protection and barrier properties, formability, decorative potential, recyclability, and consumer acceptance.

  • Metal containers are vacuum-sealed and thermally sterilized under low oxygen pressure.

  • The decomposition of nutrients is kept to a minimum in metal containers, since metals are a perfect barrier to oxygen, light and moisture.

  • The major limitations of metal containers are cost, the weight of the containers and the fact that they are difficult to crush.

  • Aluminum and steel are the most predominantly used metals in food packaging.


Excellent material for forming seals, used to form closures such as bungs for vials or in similar applications such as gaskets in aerosol cans.

  • Natural Rubbers: Suitable for multiple use closures for injectable products as rubber reseals after multiple insertion of needle.

  • Synthetic Rubber: Have fewer additives and thus fewer extractable and tends to experience less sorption of product ingredients. Are less suitable for repeated insertions of needle because they tend to fragment or small particles of the rubber into the product.


  • Plastics are synthesized by condensation, addition or crosslinking polymerization of monomer units.

  • In condensation polymerization, the polymer chain grows by condensation reactions between molecules and is accompanied by the formation of water or alcohol.

  • The thermal and mechanical properties can be partially modified in order to manufacture retortable packages with plastics that have a high melting point, or thermostable packages making use of plastics with a low melting point and to develop very flexible structures (sachets and wrappings), semirigid structures (trays and tubs) and rigid structures (bottles, closures, and tanks).

Fibrous Materials

  • The fibrous materials are the important part of pharmaceutical packaging.

  • Fibrous materials include: Papers, Labels, Cartons, Bags, Outers, Trays For Shrink Wraps, Layer Boards On Pallets, etc.

Foils, Films and Laminates

  • Foils: The most important metal for pharmaceutical application is aluminium.

  • Films: Cellophane is an attractive transparent film which can be colored and printed upon so it useful as outer wrap.

  • Laminates: are used to combine the properties of individual foil and films and strictly are made by bonding the layer with adhesive.

Blister Pack

  • Blister packs are commonly used as unit dose packaging for pharmaceutical tablets, capsules.

  • Blister packs consist of two principal components.

  • A formed base web creating the cavity inside which the product fits and.

  • The lidding foil for dispensing the product out of the pack.

  • There are two types of forming the cavity into a base web sheet: thermoforming and cold forming


There are some goods that are best protected by textiles. For example, there are custom-made textile insertions used in the automotive industry to protect car parts during transportation. The textile insert is put on a metal frame that fits into a metal container. There is also textile material used for box covers.

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