Packaging is not an end product but a mode of transport and protection for other products. Companies choose from a host of packaging options for their own products with the aim of keeping transport costs to a minimum and delivering their products to the customer with minimal or no damage. One constant challenge for packaging manufacturers is producing increasingly lightweight packaging. Over the past three decades, the weight of glass bottles and steel cans have effectively been halved, reports the UK Packaging Federation.
Apart from protecting products such as foodstuffs, and facilitating transport, packaging also plays a role in attracting customers through aesthetic display. Packaging must strike a balance between minimizing additional weight to a product and protecting the product, particularly in the case of perishable food products. Regions with inferior packaging and distribution networks pay the price in terms of waste. In certain parts of Eastern Europe for example, up to 50% of food products become waste before reaching the consumer; whereas less than 3% of food is wasted in Western Europe due to a better packaging system, according to the UK Packaging Federation.
Packaging also fills the function of labeling products, for example setting out how the product should be stored or used. Packaging must be increasingly adaptable, providing for different environments such as products that must be frozen or cooked without removing the product from its packaging.
Safety requirements must also be respected in the manufacture of packaging; for example certain products, such as cleaning products or medicines, may necessitate childproof opening devices.