Functions of packaging [German version]


The various functions of packaging are divided into primary, secondary and tertiary functions. In contrast with the primary functions, which primarily concern the technical nature of the packaging, secondary functions relate to communications. Primary, secondary and tertiary functions are divided into the following sub-functions:

Primary functions
Protective function
Storage function
Loading and transport function

Secondary functions
Sales function
Promotional function
Service function
Guarantee function

Tertiary functions
Additional function




Protective function


The protective function of packaging essentially involves protecting the contents from the environment and vice versa. The inward protective function is intended to ensure full retention of the utility value of the packaged goods. The packaging is thus intended to protect the goods from loss, damage and theft.

In addition, packaging must also reliably be able to withstand the many different static and dynamic forces to which it is subjected during transport, handling and storage operations. The goods frequently also require protection from climatic conditions, such as temperature, humidity, precipitation and solar radiation, which may require "inward packaging measures" in addition to any "outward packaging measures".

The outward protection provided by the packaging must prevent any environmental degradation by the goods. This requirement is of particular significance in the transport of hazardous materials, with protection of humans being of primary importance. The packaging must furthermore as far as possible prevent any contamination, damage or other negative impact upon the environment and other goods.

The inward and outward protective function primarily places demands upon the strength, resistance and leakproof properties of transport packaging.


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Storage function


The packaging materials and packaging containers required for producing packages must be stored in many different locations both before packaging of the goods and once the package contents have been used. Packaging must thus also fulfill a storage function.


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Loading and transport function


Convenient goods handling entails designing transport packaging in such a manner that it may be held, lifted, moved, set down and stowed easily, efficiently and safely. Packaging thus has a crucial impact on the efficiency of transport, handling and storage of goods. Packaging should therefore be designed to be easily handled and to permit space-saving storage and stowage. The shape and strength of packages should be such that they may not only be stowed side by side leaving virtually no voids but may also be stowed safely one above the other.

The most efficient method of handling general cargo is to make up cargo units. Packaging should thus always facilitate the formation of cargo units; package dimensions and the masses to be accommodated should where possible be tailored to the dimensions and load-carrying capacity of standard pallets and containers.

Where handling is to be entirely or partially manual, packages must be easy to pick up and must be of a suitably low mass. Heavy goods must be accommodated in packages which are well suited to mechanical handling. Such items of cargo must be forkliftable and be provided with convenient load-bearing lifting points for the lifting gear, with the points being specially marked where necessary (handling marks).

The loading and transport function places requirements upon the external shape of the package, upon the mass of the goods accommodated inside and upon the convenient use of packaging aids. The strength of the package required for stowing goods on top of each other demonstrates the close relationship between the loading and transport function and the protective function.


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Sales function


The purpose of the sales function of a package is to enable or promote the sales process and to make it more efficient.


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Promotional function


Promotional material placed on the packaging is intended to attract the potential purchaser's attention and to have a positive impact upon the purchasing decision. Promotional material on packaging plays a particularly important role on sales packaging as it is directly addressed to the consumer. This function is of subordinate significance in transport packaging. While product awareness is indeed generated along the transport chain, excessive promotion also increases the risk of theft.


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Service function


The various items of information printed on packaging provide the consumer with details about the contents and use of the particular product. Examples are the nutritional details on yogurt pots or dosage information on medicines.

The package may also perform a further function once the contents have been used (e.g. storage container, toy).


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Guarantee function


By supplying an undamaged and unblemished package, the manufacturer guarantees that the details on the packaging correspond to the contents. The packaging is therefore the basis for branded goods, consumer protection and product liability. There are legislative requirements which demand that goods be clearly marked with details indicating their nature, composition, weight, quantity and storage life.


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Additional function


The additional function in particular relates to the extent to which the packaging materials or packaging containers may be reused once the package contents have been used. The most significant example is the recycling of paper, paperboard and cardboard packaging as waste paper.


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