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Advantages of Flexible Packaging vs. Rigid Packaging

Packaging — like nearly all industries — has undergone a dramatic change with the advent of technological advances. As the use of technology increases, companies are inspired to explore more innovations in an effort to meet the ever-changing needs and demands of their customers. These innovations have led to the advance of flexible packaging whose advantages — when compared to rigid packaging — are making the former more advantageous than the latter. In fact, according to Packaging News, a UK-based entity that delivers news, analysis and insight on happenings in the packaging industry, research suggested “…that its global value equated to £45 billion in 2013.” Here’s why:

Increased Durability

Rigid packaging is far more likely to become damaged at some point during its transit, display or storage. When it comes to damage from an unexpected impact, such as a fall or crushing accident, flexible packaging is more resilient, resulting in less damage to the exterior artwork as well as the contents inside and the packaging itself. This means that businesses see fewer returns and complaints from their customers due to damaged packaging and the possible compromise of its contents. The most popular material that is used in flexible packaging is laminated plastics. These help improve the strength of the package and enhance its barrier attributes.

More Compact

In addition to taking up less space than rigid packaging during shipping, flexible packaging also tends to be lighter. As noted by Smithers PIRA in their report, Briefing: The Shift From Rigid to Flexible, the plastic bottle industry is an important example of a market whose materials have continued to become lighter. Because PET bottles cannot be manufactured to be much lighter than they are now, though, pouches — which are both flexible and lightweight — are the natural solution. However, the shift to using them exclusively has been slow to gain mass acceptance. This reason for this is simply a matter of speed. Four hundred flexible pouches can be filled each minute while the Smithers PIRA reports notes that “…PET bottles can be filled at speeds of 1,500 packages per minute.” Additionally, use of flexible packaging will ultimately enable water bottle companies to slash the weight of their packaging by 50 percent, according to the Smither PIRA report.

Design Options Abound

When compared to rigid packaging, flexible packaging provides firms with a range of innovative and creative designs that can be used to set their products apart from their competitors. Pre-made bags and pouches that are laminated, plastic form, fill and seal (FFS) films, bags and sacks that are laminated and polypropylene (PP) and biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) sacks and bags that are laminated are just a few options that you can use. Though the right packaging for your particular usage will vary due to the retailer, the weight of the product, the product itself and other factors, the possibilities available with flexible packaging are varied, unique and creative. Closures and additions — such as zippers to enable easier opening and closing, laser scoring to allow seamless opening or a spout pouch to facilitate spill-free pouring — can further enable you to customize your packaging to deliver a better product to your customers.

Varied Barriers

Products that require an oxygen barrier, such as wine, juice or milk, lend themselves especially well to flexible packaging. Packaging made from more conventional materials like glass, paperboard and PET, provides such a barrier for every product within their confines — whether it is needed or not. New advances in flexible packaging have seen a move away from these materials. Even tried-and-true components like foil have become compromised when faced with recent developments in the flexible packaging arena such as stand-up pouches. Because foil’s integrity can be compromised if creased in a particular way — fractures can allow pinholes to develop leading to the introduction of water, light, oxygen and more — new materials like styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) are now being used to replace it. Even when used in the thinnest of layers, SAN is tough. In addition, “…recent production methods have improved the flexible properties of this resin,” according to Smithers PIRA.

Confused about the right type of packaging for your business? Want to know if flexible packaging is an option for your product line? SLC Custom Packaging is an industry leader in the global packaging industry. Contact us today to learn how to choose the right packaging solution — including flexible packaging — for your business.