Flexible Packaging vs Rigid Packaging: Which is Right for You?

27 August 2022

FLEXIBLE PACKAGING VS. RIGID PACKAGING: WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

You might not notice how essential the right packaging type is for a company, business, or industry, but it makes a big difference. Would a pouch, stock roll film, box, or plastic container suit your product best? It’s time to learn about the pros and cons of rigid and flexible packaging.

Eco-friendliness, price, and practicality all contribute to the effectiveness of packing material. Whether a manufacturer chooses one type or another depends on the product’s needs. Let’s discuss the advantages of flexible packaging vs. rigid packaging.

THE BASICS OF FLEXIBLE PACKAGING

Flexible packaging, like the name suggests, is malleable, foldable, and often flat. It comes in many forms that accommodate various products while leaving a minimal carbon footprint. 

Products made of malleable plastic, paper, foil, and paperboard make up the flexible packaging family. You encounter these materials every day in storage, on the shelves, and at businesses. Stand-up pouches are considered flexible packaging, and can be used for:

  • Cacao
  • Coffee beans
  • Protein powder
  • And more

What’s so great about flexible packaging? Compared to rigid types, it weighs less and is far cheaper to manufacture. Because it’s smaller, more foldable, and often includes paper, flexible packaging takes up less landfill space. Furthermore, they don’t waste materials, since each container has a minimized shape with little extra space. 

Flexible packaging comes with plenty of usage freedom, too. There are lay-flat and stand-up pouches, and you can punch a hole into the material to hang products on your shelves. Flexible options like these are resealable and easy to open, not requiring packing tape or other demanding extras. 

Lastly, flexible packaging like roll stock film is easy to customize and monogram. It’s simple to brand the material with your company logo, an eye-catching design, or a cautionary warning label. The cost to customize flexible packaging is cheap since it’s easy to print.

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF FLEXIBLE PACKAGING?

As great as flexible packaging is, it’s critical to use it for the right tasks. In the wrong use cases, it won’t protect your products well. Due to its lightweight paper and plastic design, flexible packaging isn’t resilient against high temperatures. It requires cool storage solutions that preserve its strength. 

Many recycling centers and institutions don’t accept flexible packaging. The material is excellent for reuse at home but can be difficult to effectively recycle. While it doesn’t take up as much space as rigid packaging, it can take an extremely long time to degrade. 

Flexible packaging with paper or cardboard elements, like roll stock film, lessens biodegradability issues. If your company reuses its packaging through customer cooperation, the world can enjoy high-tensile packing materials without harming the environment.

Pros of Flexible Packaging

  • Low manufacturing cost
  • Wastes less material
  • Extremely customizable
  • Lightweight and easy to store
  • Takes up little room in landfills

Cons of Flexible Packaging

  • Can’t handle extreme heat or cold
  • Takes long to degrade
  • Not accepted by most recycling institutions

THE BASICS OF RIGID PACKAGING

Rigid packaging is a direct contrast to flexible forms. As the name suggests, they can’t bend while in use. Cardboard boxes, bottles, hard plastic containers, and aluminum cans are examples. Everyday foods often use rigid packaging, and shipping companies worldwide are fond of boxes.

Rigid packages exist primarily to give the contents plenty of protection. Many forms secure liquids, protecting them from punctures that can happen during the shipping process. Rigid packaging is also resilient against high temperatures and isn’t easy to melt. 

Rigid packaging is strong, supporting vastly more weight than flexible kinds. Heavy products often have no choice but to use strong containers due to their demanding shapes, sizes, or weights. 

These types of packing materials are much easier to recycle, and accepting institutions for them are widespread. Nearly every recycling center in America accepts cardboard and glass, and many more take hard plastics. And while they take up more space at landfills, rigid materials often degrade faster than the laminated films used in flexible packaging.

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS OF RIGID PACKAGING?

Rigid packaging excels at protection, but each type still has defensive weaknesses. Glass shatters and cardboard won’t guard against water damage. Your company may need several different types of rigid material to fully protect your products. That means more wasting packing material and extra expenses over time.

Rigid packaging is costly to produce and customize. Luxury boxes for wines, rings, perfumes, and other products leave an impression but are expensive to manufacture. Branding a glass bottle takes a special order, and although you can personalize cardboard, the ink can smear because of water. 

Most types of rigid packaging don’t store easily. Cardboard boxes conveniently fold flat, but when they’re in use, they take up significant space. Bottles and cans don’t easily condense either, meaning you must recycle them when they outlive their uses. 

Some products can only use rigid packaging. Ultimately, however, it lacks the customizability, lightweight design, and versatility of flexible forms.

Pros of Rigid Packaging

  • Extremely strong
  • Defends the items inside
  • Heat tolerant
  • Easy to recycle

Cons of Rigid Packaging

  • Expensive to produce
  • Sometimes difficult to store
  • Higher carbon footprint
  • Not easy to customize
  • Often wastes material

FLEXIBLE PACKAGING VS. RIGID PACKAGING: WHICH SHOULD I CHOOSE?

We looked at the pros and cons of rigid and flexible packaging, but which one should you choose? It depends on the size, weight, shape, and demands of your product.

Selling something small? If you’re an upstart company looking to advance the industry, adopting iconic flexible materials is one of the best ways to start. The Packaging Lab can help you customize pouches that stand or sit as well as rolls of stock film. If you don’t know which to choose, order one of our sample packs to help you decide.

A custom container with a low carbon footprint leaves a big impression. The Packaging Lab helps clients like you get one step closer to enhancing your brand. Contact us today to get started on your custom packaging design.

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