Different types of packaging

Updated April 17, 2017

Whether transporting or storing personal items, manufactured goods or fresh produce and meat, packaging serves a variety of purposes and comes in different types. Packaging protects from handling or pressure damage, heat and cold, and rain and sunlight during transportation and storage. Correct packaging efficiently groups small items or changes bulk commodities into sizes for individual use. Multiple options for packaging almost anything comes with the different types available.


Familiar across the globe, plastic bags remain a common kind of packaging we all use whether for clothes, hardware, food or frivolous shopping. Plastic bags make up some of the estimated 30 million tons of containers and packaging recycled in 2005.

Bulk Drums

Used in conjunction with shipping pallets, bulk drums hold large numbers of objects. Steel and recycled-plastic drum packaging containers provide another option for large amounts of packaging. Used by industrialists and merchandisers alike, bulk drums secure import goods, clothing and merchandise. An intermediate bulk container normally comes in 220-gallon capacity size packaging as much as 907 Kilogram of produce.


Used as many as 200 times or more, strong wooden and plastic pallets (some made from recycled plastic) stack numerous individual boxes for forklift access in warehouses after transport on trucks. Available in a variety of dimensions pallets are 31.5 by 47.4 inches, 23.62 by 31.5 inches and 15.75 by 31.5 inches.

Controlled Atmosphere

Engineered controlled atmosphere packaging used in shipping fresh produce, works with the product and the packing material in regulating the mix of beneficial environmental gases. Essential to moving fresh picked vegetables and fruits from the grower to the consumer, this type of packaging comes with custom systems ideal for individualised shipping.

Foam and Fiberboard

Packaging includes the kind of filler surrounding the contained goods. Plastic foam stabilising collars and frames added as corner pieces provide protection and stability to packages. Foam separators keep layers of goods immobile during transport. Foam peanuts remain a popular filler to secure and protect one or more items. Other foam packaging products include sheets and wraps encircling the product securely. Corrugated fiberboard offers sturdy protection for multiple layers of packaged items.

Boxes and Crates

Rating the strength of a wooden crate requires all six sides of the self-supporting structure be in place. The rated strength of a wooden box depends on the weight it can carry before installing the top, sides and ends. Because boxes and crates come in wood, they are often confused. With the global move to plastic crates in 2010, the difference between the two becomes more apparent.

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About the Author

Catalina Bixler's journalism career began in 1970. After five years as a publishing teacher, Bixler then published/edited NATO's U.S. 5th Army and 17th AF "Wiesbaden Post" newspaper. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in bilingual-journalism/community development from Redlands University, and a Master of Arts in adult education/training from the University of Phoenix.