Package contents, packaging material, packaging container and packaging aid
Package contents: The item which is packaged is known as the package contents.
Packaging materials: These are the materials which constitute the packaging. Examples are paper, cardboard, millboard, corrugated board, lumber, sheet metal, plastics, glass etc.. These are, however, only generic terms. If packaging materials are to be precisely defined, a more exact description must be given:
|Wooden packages may be made of wood species such as spruce, fir, pine, European beech or poplar.
|Plastic packaging is made from polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP), polyurethane (PU), polystyrene (PS), polyamides (PA) etc..
|Corrugated board is specified, amongst other things, by the number of flutes, flute size, material thickness and basis weight.
|Paper is classified into different varieties depending upon its properties, such as packaging paper, wet strength paper, crepe paper, coated grades of paper with a barrier material or treated grades of paper, for example treated with VCI (Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor).
Packaging container: The container in which the package contents (cargo) are packaged. The following are examples of packaging containers: cartons, boxes, crates, sacks, cans, drums, jars, bottles, jerricans, bags, shrink covers etc..
Packaging aids: Packaging aids are materials which reinforce or permit the production of packaging containers, such as nails, adhesive tapes, staples and strapping which hold boxes and cartons together.
Packaging aids also include labels such as those on beverage bottles and sleeves on cans and bottle and jar closures, markings (e.g. warning labels), desiccants, securing means (e.g. metal and other seals) or cushioning materials (corner pads, airbags etc.).
Back to beginning
Transport packaging, outer packaging and sales packaging
Transport packaging: Pursuant to § 3, para. 1, clause 1 of the German packaging regulations, transport packaging includes:
“ drums, jerricans, boxes, bags including pallets, cardboard packaging, foamed trays, shrink films and similar coverings which are constituents of transport packages and the purpose of which is to protect goods from damage while in transit between the manufacturer and distributor or which are used for reasons of transport safety.“
Unlike sales packaging, transport packaging is removed after transport to the trader (wholesaler, retailer etc.) and the goods are sold on to the consumer or other third party without the transport packaging.
Packaging which is delivered to the consumer and in which the consumer has no interest is also classed as transport packaging.
Examples of transport packaging are:
|Paperboard trays and films as packaging for beverage cans
|Boxes for capital goods, such as machinery, engines etc.
|Cartons and films acting as packaging material for furniture
|Cartons holding a relatively large number of individual items, such as toothpaste tubes, canned foods
Outer packaging: Pursuant to §3, para. 1, clause 3, of the German packaging regulations, outer packaging includes:
„blister packs, films, cardboard packaging or similar coverings which are intended as additional packaging around sales packaging which
|serve to facilitate self-service retailing of the goods or
|serve to deter or prevent theft or
|predominantly serve promotional purposes.“
|Cartons in which toothpaste tubes are packaged
|Cartons in which high-value beverage bottles are packaged
|Cartons in which several cigarette packets are packaged
Sales packaging: §3, para. 1, clause 2 of the German packaging regulations defines sales packaging as follows:
„Closed or open containers and coverings for goods, such as pots, bags, blister packages, cans, pails, drums, bottles, jerricans, cardboard packaging, cartons, sacks, dishes, carrier bags or similar coverings which are used by the consumer for transport or kept until the contents are consumed. For the purposes of the regulations, disposable crockery and cutlery are also classed as sales packaging.“
Sales packaging is packaging which only loses its function when it reaches the consumer, unless the packaging is delivered to the consumer, who has no interest in this packaging.
Back to beginning
Ordinary commercial, seaworthy and fit for purpose packaging
Packaging has frequently been described in the past, and to some extent still is described, as „ordinary commercial“ or „seaworthy“. However, since these terms are rather vague and provide no precise definition of such packaging, they should be avoided. Even poor packaging may be described as „ordinary commercial“.
Ordinary commercial packaging merely refers to certain practices which are customary in the consignor’s country. The conditions which the product will be expected to withstand during transport, which are determined by the route, duration of transport, destination, duration of storage, possible onward transport, must be taken into account.
Using the term seaworthy packaging is intended to indicate that the packaging must additionally withstand the conditions of maritime transport and thus more severe stresses. However, this often disregards the fact that the most severe stresses do not occur during maritime transport itself, but instead during cargo handling (due to impact, pushing, overturning etc.).
When problems arise, the terms „ordinary commercial“ and „seaworthy“ packaging always cause dispute because they are not defined. It is thus advisable to stipulate the exact nature of the packaging when making contractual agreements. This may be achieved by specifying the following parameters:
|Mandatory standards and legislation
Insurance terms now mention packaging which is „fit for purpose“, which provides a more precise definition of the packaging and, in the event of loss, allows an assessment to be made as to whether the packaging was adequate or not adequate.
Back to beginning
Shrink and stretch packaging
Both these types of packaging are used to group together individual packages, containers or items of cargo on a pallet to form a cargo unit.
Shrink wrapping involves enclosing the package contents in shrink film (flat or tubular film), heat sealing any unsealed portions and separating the package from the film web or covering the package contents with a shrink cover. Depending upon the shape and weight of the package contents, the shrink material used should be PE or plasticized PVC film of a thickness of 0.01 to 0.2 mm, with PE films being particularly suitable for heavy items. The film is heated from the outside in a shrink oven or with hand-held heat gun, so releasing the „frozen in“ tension in the film. Shrink films are produced in forms which are oriented either monoaxially (in a single direction) or biaxially (in two directions). As the film cools down, it shrinks around the package contents, applying a very slight pressure per unit area. The tear strength of shrink films to DIN 53371 is 1.8 to 3.2 Nm/mm² in machine direction and 1.6 to 2.5 Nm/mm² in transverse direction. If the shrink packaging is intended to secure loads in transit, compliance with VDI guideline 3968, sheet 4 must be ensured. There are no restrictions either with regard to the compressive strength of the packaged item or with regard to differing loading areas, heights and weights. Sharp-edged items should be shrink wrapped either with film of an appropriate thickness or using edge protectors. When shrink wrapping pallet loads, the film should be placed such that it extends over the lower edge of the pallet deck (see Figure 1), so ensuring that the cargo cannot slip and may be described as a functional cargo unit. If the base area of the packaged item is smaller than the area of the pallet, care must be taken to ensure that the item is firmly attached to the pallet before it is shrink wrapped. Shrink wrapping provides protection from dust and moisture in indoor storage. Particularly hygroscopic goods must stand on a film on the pallet or be otherwise protected. Shrink packaging provides a psychological barrier to theft.
Stretch packaging: In stretch wrapping, one or more flat films are placed under mechanical tension and wound helically around the item to be packaged. Depending upon the shape and weight of the package contents, the stretch material used should be PE or plasticized PVC film of a thickness of 0.01 to 0.05 mm, with stretch packaging only being suitable for light weights and firmly consolidated items. The ends of the film web are heat sealed or coated. The cargo unit is held together by the tension of the film. If the stretch packaging is intended to secure loads in transit, compliance with VDI guideline 3968, sheet 5 must be ensured. Pretensioning of the film when stretch wrapping should not exceed the compressive strength of the item being packaged. However, if low levels of pretensioning are applied, securing of the cargo in transit is also reduced. Securing of the cargo in transit is also reduced by over- or understacking of the pallet base area. There are no restrictions with regard to differing loading areas, heights and weights. Sharp-edged items should only be stretch wrapped using edge protectors, as the film may tear during the stretch wrapping operation. When stretch wrapping pallet loads, the film should be placed such that it extends over the lower edge of the pallet deck, so ensuring that the cargo cannot slip and may be described as a functional cargo unit. Stretch wrapping provides protection from dust and moisture in indoor storage only if an additional cargo cover sheet is used. Particularly hygroscopic goods also require an additional cargo cover sheet and must stand on a film on the pallet or be otherwise protected. Stretch packaging provides a psychological barrier to theft.
Back to beginning
Disposable and returnable packaging
Disposable packaging: Disposable packaging is intended only for a single transport operation. Possible reasons for using disposable packaging may be, for example, that return and reuse is not economic, that the package will not withstand further transport operations or that the packaged item is unique and requires a specially tailored package (e.g. wooden box for machinery). If a disposable package is reused, problems may occur in the event of loss as the packaging would be considered not adequate due to the repeated use.
Examples of disposable packages are:
|Corrugated board cartons
Returnable packaging: Unlike disposable packaging, returnable packaging is intended for repeated use, so reducing the volume of packaging and thus also of packaging waste. Returnable packaging must be made more strongly than disposable packaging as it is exposed to stresses more often.
Another requirement placed upon returnable packaging systems is that they should be straightforward and cheap to return, i.e. the packages must be designed such that they are foldable or collapsible.
Examples of returnable packaging are:
|Glass yogurt pots
|Returnable wooden boxes with clip closures
|Collapsible corrugated board/wooden composite structures
Back to beginning