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Packaging Materials in Logistics

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Blue plastic boxes, used as packing material, are waiting in the warehouse to be used.

To ensure that clothing, electronics, technology or industrial goods are not damaged during shipping and arrive safely at the customer's premises, reliable and damage-free transport is required. Packaging materials play a particularly important role in this. This article explains which types of packaging are available and when they are used. 

Packaging: definition and use

Packing material are materials used for handling, storage, transport, and protection of goods and products. Typical examples of packaging materials are cardboard boxes, crates, cans, but also tubes, bottles as well as plastic containers. Things that are used to make packaging materials suitable for shipping or transport are referred to as Packing aids is the term used. This category includes, for example, adhesive strips, adhesive tape, films, filling and cushioning material, and plastic tapes. The production of packaging materials and packaging aids is carried out by companies in the packaging industry.

The packaging materials area also includes products in the category Funding Resources.&nbspThese are used to safely transport products including packaging materials. These are, for example, wooden pallets or containers.

What functions do packaging materials fulfill?

Depending on the context in which packaging materials are used, they fulfill a wide variety of requirements. The most important functions of packaging materials are:

  • Storage
    Specific packaging provides a good overview during storage and interim storage, which allows grouping and sorting. In addition, the right packaging material opens up the option of stacking goods.
  • Handling and Transportation
    Packaging by means of packaging materials enables the smooth, space-saving and efficient shipment of goods. The goods are protected from external influences by the appropriate packaging materials. Clear packaging provides a further overview during handling.
  • Protection
    Proper packaging protects goods from external forces such as shock, pressure and fall. It can also prevent contamination of the product by dust, dirt or weather. The effects of possible vermin infestation are minimized.
  • Presentation
    Attractive packaging can persuade customers to buy a particular product. An attractive packaging is an influential factor on the purchase decision.
  • Information
    Product packaging informs the recipient about the contents and possible risks that arise if handled incorrectly, for example in the case of glassware. QR codes or symbols provide information about the contents. In addition, address data for shipping can be located on the packaging material.


What are the different types of packaging?

Depending on the intended use, different packaging materials are used during transport to ensure that the packaged goods reach their destination undamaged and safely.

The primary packaging
The primary packaging is the actual sales packaging that the end consumer encounters when shopping. Printed labels or a brand-specific packaging design are often applied to the primary packaging. Examples of primary packaging are beverage bottles, packaging bags for potato chips or cans for pet food.

The secondary packaging
Secondary packaging refers to packaging materials that stabilize the packaged goods already packed for sale, bundle them into a larger packaging unit and/or protect them against theft. The packaging often contains product-specific information or marketing content. Examples of secondary packaging are films that hold PET bottles together and thus make them easier to transport (6-pack carrier) or cartons that bundle several individual cans into a larger packaging unit. At Collective packaging are often glass, (air) foils or even cardboard products.

The tertiary packaging
Tertiary packaging is transport packaging that is primarily used to protect the goods being transported. Examples of this type of packaging are large boxes, containers or (foiled) pallets used to transport the goods.

Beyond this, packaging materials differ in terms of reusability. Thus, there are disposable and reusable packaging.

Which packaging materials are used in logistics?

Due to the versatile requirements placed on packaging materials, different materials are used. Often these are:


As a natural resource, wood is a popular material for packaging. Packaging made of wood is stable, cost-effective and insensitive to temperatures. At the same time, wood is robust, high quality and recyclable. Typical wooden packaging materials are sea chests, inland boxes, two-way and four-way pallets.


Plastic and synthetic materials are often used as high-quality and resistant packaging materials. They are suitable materials for the transportation of a wide variety of goods. At the same time, the packaging material is insensitive to temperatures and provides excellent insulation. Known packaging materials made of plastic are bottles, trays, bags or boxes.


Cardboard is one of the most common packaging materials, not least because of its environmentally friendly properties. Packaging materials made of cardboard or in combination with cardboard are available in a wide variety of thicknesses and sizes. They can be folded and stored in a space-saving manner and can also be recycled.packaging materials made of cardboard include cardboard boxes, crates, corrugated cardboard or cartons.


Metal is versatile as a packaging material and is used when a high degree of stability is required. It is malleable, lightweight and recyclable. Metal packaging is made of sheet steel, corrugated sheet metal or aluminum and comes in the form of cans, drums, cans or containers.



Glass as a packaging material comes in the form of returnable glass, hollow glass or used glass. Glass is used particularly frequently in the food industry because it reliably encloses solids and liquids, stores them hygienically and does not absorb odors. Typical glass packaging materials are bottles or screw-cap jars. 


Packaging materials are there to ensure easy handling and protection of the transported goods during transport. In addition, packaging is used to present goods and pass on information. Depending on the goods and their purpose, a wide variety of packaging materials can be used.

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