When you go to the store, you always get asked, “paper or plastic?” However, you should be asking yourself this question when it comes to the best shipping material for your business. 

Here’s what you need to know when deciding between paper and plastic packaging: 

Pros and Cons of Paper Packaging

Paper packaging comes with many pros and cons that you need to weigh out to find the best shipping option for your products and brand. 

Pros

  • Paper packaging is recyclable, which means it’s more sustainable for the environment and more convenient for consumers and businesses who may want to reuse packaging elements. 
  • Paper packaging can be branded by printing directly onto the cardboard. This is a great marketing solution for brands looking to promote their business and products. 
  • Paper packaging is a cost-efficient packaging solution that’s particularly affordable when purchased in bulk. Most packaging providers offer lower prices for higher volumes. 
  • Paper packaging can be stored for long periods of time so long as it’s stored properly and protected from the elements. 

Cons

  • Paper packaging is less durable than plastic packaging and is at risk for rips, tears, and punctures throughout the shipping process. Additionally, paper packaging cannot withstand moisture without being damaged. 
  • While paper packaging can be recycled, it cannot be recycled infinitely. Instead, it can only be recycled about five to seven times until the fibers become essentially useless and need to be disposed of. 

Pros and Cons of Plastic Packaging

There are advantages and disadvantages of plastic packaging you should consider before you decide to make the switch: 

Pros of Plastic Packaging

  • Plastic packaging is one of the cheapest packaging options out there. So if you’re looking to minimize shipping costs to improve your margins, plastic might be your best bet. 
  • Plastic packaging is more durable than other types of packaging since it cannot be easily punctured or damaged. It’s also long-lasting, won’t break down quickly, and is very easy to store for long periods. 
  • Plastic packaging can weigh less and helps you save money on shipping costs that incorporate the weight of the packaging and the weight of the products. 

Cons of Plastic Packaging

  • Plastic packaging is produced through a process that releases a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, leading to pollution and environmental issues. 
  • Plastic packaging is hard to recycle properly, so even though it can “technically” be recycled, studies show that over 91% of existing plastic in the world never actually gets recycled. 
  • Plastic packaging doesn’t break down quickly, which means that it’s more likely to pollute the environment — potentially harming animals both on land and in the ocean. 

Which Option Is Better for Shipping?

Now that you have a better idea of the pros and cons of both paper and plastic packaging, you need to decide which option is best for your brand and products. 

If you’re still feeling stuck, here are some more tips to help you make the right decision:

  • If you’re shipping lightweight items that don’t require a lot of protection or insulation during the shipping process, like clothing items, then you may want to consider plastic packaging. 
  • If you’re shipping heavier items that need more support and protection during the shipping process then you may want to consider paper packaging. 
  • If you’re just starting and are looking to save as much money as possible on shipping and storage costs to make up for tight margins, then you should consider plastic packaging as a more cost-effective option. 
  • If your brand has a reputation for caring about the environment, you should consider paper packaging a more eco-friendly option. 
  • If you want exceptional printing and branding options, strong product protection, and an environmentally conscious packaging, paper packaging may be the way to go

Are There Any Other Alternatives?

If you’d like to use plastic packaging due to its benefits but are turned off by the negative environmental factors, then you may want to consider bioplastic as an alternative. 

Bioplastics are made from biodegradable materials, including things like corn, rice, and other organic and plant-based compounds. While these materials cannot technically be recycled, they do break down more quickly since they are natural and biodegradable. 

This means that your packaging will not sit in landfills, effectively polluting the earth, for years to come.

Do Consumers Really Care About Packaging?

You might be wondering if your packaging really matters that much. After all, consumers don’t care about packaging, right? Not so fast. More and more consumers these days are environmentally conscious and want to support brands that share their values. But don’t just take our word for it.

Surveys showed that 61% of consumers in the United States want to support companies that protect the environment. In the United Kingdom, 56% of consumers want to support eco-friendly companies. 

But consumers aren’t the only ones that care about sustainable packaging — retailers care as well. Take Target, for example. Target has set several sustainable packaging goals they hope to achieve by 2022. 

Specifically, Target wants to source all owned brand paper-based packaging from sustainably managed forests by 2022. They also want to work to eliminate expanded polystyrene from their own brand packaging by 2022. 

So if you want to keep up with both consumers and retailers, you need to care about the sustainability of your packaging products. 

How to Find the Best Eco-Friendly Packaging?

If you’re looking for eco-friendly paper packaging, look no further than Box Genie. Box Genie offers a whole host of paper packaging products that are sustainably sourced and produced. For example, Box Genie uses odorless water-based ink to print food safety standards with zero UV-reactive chemicals and produces zero hazardous air pollutants. 

Box Genie also incorporates recycled material into our corrugated cardboard products. We are committed to using the highest degree of recycled material allowed by the paper industry’s standards, which means that both our Kraft and Essential White corrugated cardboard contain a majority of recycled material. 

In terms of sustainable sourcing, our materials are sourced from a local corrugator before they are cut and printed in-house, which cuts down on transportation costs and our overall carbon footprint. As you can see, Box Genie is an environmentally-friendly packaging provider that shares the values of both you and your customers. 

In terms of what we offer, here’s a quick rundown on some of our best products:

  • Custom mailer boxes are great for subscription boxes and brand awareness. These boxes come in tons of different sizes with double-sided printing options. 
  • One-piece folder boxes are great for mailing books and artwork. These boxes come in a few different sizes with double-sided printing options. 
  • Shipping boxes are great for products of all types and sizes thanks to a wide variety of size options and three different paper types. 
  • Triangle document mailers are great for mailing papers and artwork with a smart design that won’t roll away but will protect the contents. 

The Final Rundown on Paper vs. Plastic

As you can see, the choice between paper or plastic is more involved than you may think. You need to choose the best packaging materials for your products or business — so reach out to the shipping experts at Box Genie for personalized recommendations and packaging solutions. 

 

Sources:

  1. Is Paper a More Sustainable Flexible Packaging Material Than Plastic? | Forbes
  2. What You Need to Know About Plant-Based Plastics | National Geographic
  3. Your Customers Prefer Sustainable Products | Business News Daily

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Megan D., CEO at SSBD

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