Complete Guide: Best protective packaging materials for shipping, storage and transportation

Selecting the right packaging protection ensures that your product makes it where it needs to be free of damage or contamination. So how do you make the right choice? Let's explore your options.

Packaging protection is a critical component of any product’s journey from the manufacturer to the distributor, wholesaler, retailer or end customer. 

The right packaging provides extra protection and ensures that products arrive in good condition, free from damage and contamination.

Packaging & Netting Illustration

Here's the problem:

With thousands of protective packaging materials on the market – from metal, glass and packaging paper, to plastic netting, containers and vials – it can feel overwhelming to select the exact packaging solution that is optimal for your unique situation.

In this article, we will review the wide variety of protective packaging solutions available in the marketplace, and help you determine which one is best for your specific needs.

Key benefits of protective packaging

The right packaging is essential for the safe and successful transportation and storage of products.

Without the right type or amount of packaging, businesses risk damage or loss to their products during transit.

In fact, there are many benefits of protective packaging, from contamination and FOD (foreign objects and debris) protection to security and tamper resistance.

Let's discuss the key benefits of protective packaging when shipping, storing or transporting goods.

Tamper Evident Seal - TES Series
Ensures security and reduces tampering
The right packaging provides a physical barrier between the product and the outside world, reducing the risk of theft. Packaging also helps to prevent tampering by making it difficult for someone to access the contents without damaging or altering the packaging.
Minimizes shock and vibration during transit
Especially with fragile items, protection against shocks and vibrations can be the difference between a product arriving in one piece or in pieces. Some protective materials can cushion items, absorbing and dissipating the energy caused by the impact of shocks.
Reduces spillage, leakage and contamination
Proper packaging can help protect against leakage, spillage or intrusion by other unwanted outside substances or materials, preventing contamination, damage or deterioration, and ensuring items reach their destination as intended.

Most common materials used for packaging

There are a variety of materials used for packaging – and each has its own unique properties and benefits. The most common materials used for packaging include paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, glass and wood.

In this section, we will explore the various materials used for packaging and their unique benefits and uses.


  • Paper and cardboard are best for protecting lightweight or fragile items
  • Low cost, but also low durability and impact resistance


  • For use with a wide range of products, offering rigidity and durability
  • Especially useful for items with an extended shelf life


  • Often used for foods, beverages, consumables and personal care
  • Also common with pharmaceutical products, as well as lab applications


  • Affordable and abundant, can be used on its own or to contain other packaging
  • Often used in tandem with other materials


  • Used for a wide range of products, from food and beverages to industrial parts
  • Usable for items requiring sterilization

Unique advantages of plastic packaging

Overall, plastic packaging has a number of significant advantages that make it a popular choice for many companies, including its low cost, lightweight, durability, versatility, barrier properties and reusability.

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Low cost
Plastic packaging is generally less expensive to produce than other types of packaging materials, such as glass or metal. This makes it an attractive option for companies looking to minimize packaging costs.
Lightweight Icon
Plastic packaging is much lighter than other types of packaging materials, which makes it easier and less expensive to transport and distribute products.
Durable Icon
Plastic packaging is often more durable than other types of packaging materials, which means it is less likely to break or become damaged during transport or handling.
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Versatile & customizable
Plastic packaging is extremely versatile and can be molded into a wide range of shapes and sizes to suit the needs of different products. This makes it a good choice for packaging products of various shapes and sizes – and a great option for custom packaging as well.
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Barrier properties
Some types of plastic packaging are very good at protecting products from the environment, such as moisture, oxygen and light. This makes it a good choice for packaging products that are sensitive to these factors.
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Recyclability & reusability
Some types of plastic packaging are recyclable and/or reusable, which can cut back on waste while also potentially lowering overall protection costs through greater longevity and reuse than some traditional materials.

Overall, plastic packaging is uniquely designed to safeguard items from potential damage and contamination, ensuring they stay in good condition until they reach their final destination.

For these reasons, protective plastic packaging materials are used for a variety of products to ensure their safe and reliable transport and storage.

Types of plastic packaging products

Because of its versatility and customization qualities, plastic packaging comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and forms to meet the needs of any product.

Common types include plastic netting, tubing, containers, vials and medical storage packages.

Let's explore the use cases of each.


Packaging material made from plastic fibers or strands that are knitted or woven together to form a net-like structure.

  • Lightweight, durable and flexible
  • Good choice for packaging products of all shapes and sizes
  • Ideal for loose items or irregularly shaped products
Plastic Extruded Tubing

Hollow extruded plastic tube used to transport products and/or serve as a display for retailing.

  • Lightweight, yet rigid and durable
  • Excellent for structural support, barrier protection and sterilization
  • Sealable to prevent moisture and FOD infiltration
Plastic Containers & Vials
Containers & Vials

Containers of all shapes and sizes used to store a variety of products across all industries.

  • Lightweight, and durable
  • Excellent for structural support, barrier protection and sterilization
  • Available in an array of styles, including attached or removable lids and many color options
Plastic Extruded Tubing
Medical Packaging

Packaging specially designed for medical products, such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostic products.

  • Durable, with sterile options available
  • Heavily regulated, so it's important to choose a qualified manufacturer like Caplugs (hint: we are a global powerhouse serving nearly every industry)
  • Protection for sharp and delicate tool ends

In Summary

When products are damaged or destroyed during transport or while in storage, the costs can be staggering. According to a 2022 report from Avery Dennison, global losses from damaged or destroyed goods are estimated at over $81.6 billion across just the beauty, foot, automotive, apparel and pharmaceutical industries. Protective packaging is essential to minimizing – or eliminating – this risk and significant loss.

But not all protective packaging materials are ideal for all businesses and all situations.

From paper or metal to glass or plastic, packaging solutions are offered in a wide range of sizes, shapes and materials – and it can feel overwhelming to determine exactly which choice is best for your unique situation.

Companies that value low cost, durable and versatile packaging solutions should consider plastic packaging. Protective plastic packaging comes in near-limitless shapes and sizes to fit almost every product across all industries, from food and beverage to heavy-duty industrial to delicate medical materials.

If you need a manufacturer for protective netting, tubing, containers, vials or medical packaging, Caplugs might be the right choice. Take a minute to browse our packaging products or contact us.