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When you are bringing a new product to the market, you have a lot of balls to juggle. Choosing the packaging for your new product is just one of these balls, but it may be among the more critical of the choices you have to make.

Why is choosing the right packaging for your products such a crucial decision? The reality is that packaging is an indispensable part of your product. The packaging protects the contents, advertises your brand and helps your product to look as attractive as possible on the shelf or website.

Even within the realm of packaging, you’ll have numerous decisions to make. One primary consideration is whether to opt for rigid or flexible packaging.

Here are some of the factors that may guide your choice between rigid and flexible packaging:

  • Environmental impact
  • Cost
  • Sustainability
  • Protection of the contents
  • The fragility of the packaging or its contents.

Let’s examine both rigid and flexible packaging with the goal of helping you to decide which option is right for your products.

Defining Rigid Packaging

When comparing rigid packaging with flexible packaging, it will quickly become apparent that rigid packaging is the stronger and heavier of the two. Materials that are used for rigid packaging may include metal, glass, cardboard and hard plastics.

In general, rigid packaging tends to be more expensive than flexible packaging because of the materials out of which it is made.

Rigid packaging frequently is used to protect fragile food products, like the sturdy plastic tubs in which hummus is sold. Even if you drop that tub on the floor, it is unlikely to break.

Of course, some examples of rigid packaging, like a wine bottle, are quite sturdy but will still break if you drop them.

Companies frequently choose rigid packaging when their wares are relatively delicate and need a little extra protection. Sometimes, brands will use rigid packaging to convey a sense of luxury or indulgence. Consider an expensive liqueur that is packaged in a glass bottle and then a small wooden box or crate. When the customer receives and opens the crate, he knows that the product inside truly is something special.

Rigid packaging has a lot going for it. Some of the reasons why you might want to opt for this type of packaging include its superior strength and the impression of quality that it gives. Rigid packaging is popular for food because it does not affect the flavor of the contents. Moreover, rigid packaging frequently is made from materials that are easy to recycle, so they may have less of an environmental impact in some respects.

Additionally, rigid packaging is a familiar standby in many industries. This means that you have an almost endless array of options and styles from which to choose. You’ll also discover that there are a lot of manufacturer choices when it comes to rigid packaging.

Rigid packaging isn’t perfect. In most situations, it is the more expensive choice, and the methods of manufacturing such packaging typically have a much larger carbon footprint. Shipping costs may be higher because of the greater weight and bulk of this packaging. If the recipient chooses not to recycle the rigid packaging, then it will take up more space in the landfill than a flexible packaging choice would.

Moreover, products that are encased in rigid packaging tend to be “shelf hogs.” Because rigid packaging cannot bend or deform, it takes up quite a bit of space on the shelf, which may mean that you cannot display as many items as you could with flexible packaging.

Defining Flexible Packaging

Any packaging that may be described as “malleable” is considered “flexible packaging.” Examples of flexible packaging are:

Flexible packaging may be made from materials such as paperboard, foil, plastic, paperboard coated with wax, paper and a variety of other materials.

In the last decade or so, flexible packaging has become far more popular for a number of reasons. For instance, flexible packaging tends to be less expensive than rigid packaging. Moreover, it generally has a smaller environmental impact.

Many familiar products such as drinks, poultry, coffee, produce and electronics make use of flexible packaging. In fact, this packaging style has become so popular that it is found in pretty nearly every supermarket in the world.

Companies may choose flexible packaging for various reasons. As an example, if flexible packaging is dumped in a landfill, it takes up far less space than rigid packaging does. Additionally, of all packaging supplies, flexible packaging tends to have the smallest carbon footprint, and they are made using less material than is required for rigid packaging.

Brands frequently prefer flexible packaging because it is so easy to use. That’s because many flexible packaging options are easy to tear open or have tear-away lids or closures that customers find much more convenient. Additionally, flexible packaging sometimes can guarantee better freshness thanks to the use of resealable zipper tops on items that may be affected by the introduction of air or moisture.

The affordability of flexible packaging is one of its main selling points. Plus, the options for adding branding and otherwise customizing flexible packaging are endless.

Unfortunately, flexible packaging does have a few limitations. In some cases, it can negatively affect the flavor of the food or liquid that it contains. Extreme temperatures may prove to be too much for flexible packaging, and it isn’t always easy to recycle this type of packaging unless an existing recycling infrastructure for that particular material is already in place. When flexible packaging makes its way into landfills, it may take up less space, but it will require more than 1,000 years to completely degrade.

Consider also that flexible packaging tends to be a little smaller than rigid packaging, so if you are making extra-large items, you may have no choice but to opt for rigid packaging.

Which Packaging Is Right for Your Products?

Whether you are introducing a new product to the world or are looking for a smarter way to package your existing wares, it’s helpful to consider some key questions before deciding to opt for either rigid or flexible packaging.

For instance, it is critical to consider how delicate your products are. Items that are delicate or are otherwise subject to easy breakage may benefit from the extra protection that is afforded by rigid packaging. However, keep in mind that glass may not always be the best choice when it comes to protecting delicate things.

You also may want to spend some time reflecting on how important your company’s environmental impact is to you and your customers. Many consumers are more environmentally conscious than ever, so they may develop a negative impression of your brand if you are not choosing a packaging option that is easy to recycle or isn’t made from recyclable materials. Flexible packaging may still be your best choice because although it may not be recyclable, it results in less overall pollution and has a smaller carbon footprint. Keep in mind that you also have lots of options when it comes to flexible packaging, and the choices for recyclable styles keep improving and expanding.

If your company has been in business for a few years and you’ve been troubled by the high cost of packaging, then maybe it is time to look further into switching to flexible packaging. This packaging type is far less expensive than rigid packaging, and if it offers sufficient protection for your goods, then this may be the way to go to improve your company’s bottom line.

On the other hand, if you are making packaging choices for a luxury or designer brand, then you may not mind spending a little, or a lot, extra on upgraded packaging. If your budget is higher, then spring for the rigid packaging with its upscale look and feel.

Does your company do a great deal of shipping products all over the world? If so, then it may be critical to keep shipping costs as low as possible. The best way to achieve this is through using flexible packaging.

Contact Mid-Atlantic Packaging Today

Are you still on the fence regarding whether flexible or rigid packaging is right for your products? The choice is not always an easy one given that there are many pros and cons associated with both options. When in doubt, it is always wise to seek the guidance of an expert like the knowledgeable professionals at Mid-Atlantic Packaging. Browse through our website to discover our options for rigid packaging, flexible packaging and all of the shipping and packaging accessories that your business could ever need. Alternatively, give us a call at (800) 284-1332 to speak to a friendly customer service representative who can answer your questions.