1. Paper-based packaging is the sustainable alternative that consumers want from brands.

More and more, consumers are demanding packages that are environmentally responsible: recyclable and renewable. And that’s the strength of paper-based packaging: it’s a natural product. It starts with trees that are cared for and planted to harvest for paper and ends with it being recycled to be used again and again.

2. Paper-based packaging helps tell a brand’s story.

From the corrugated cardboard shipping box to the paperboard packaging that surrounds and protects the products, the entire unboxing event is important to the brand experience a consumer has with the product. And the paper-based packaging offers so much more: a surface for printing high quality graphics, brand marks, images, and more to tell the brand’s story.

3. Paper-based packaging is practical.

Take the ubiquitous pasta box. It’s a tried and true design that provides reliable stackability on the supermarket shelf and the perfect surface for displaying brand and product information. For the consumer, it provides protection for the product inside and a convenient way to store and serve it from home. It’s also easy to pack and transport in secondary packaging, the corrugated box engineered to provide safe delivery of its contents to retail destinations. And both the primary product packaging and the secondary packaging can be broken down and recycled multiple times to provide new packaging solutions. 

4. Paper and corrugated cardboard packaging can serve multiple purposes.

With the tremendous growth of e-commerce, where items ship individually, convertible packaging is a new area for innovation. Everything from diapers to kitty litter can be packaged directly in corrugated boxes that are strong enough for shipping and can still attractively display the product on the store shelf, or be used as the serving container on the end customer’s home shelf.

5. Paper-based materials make a great package.

Designers love working with paperboard and corrugated cardboard because they are perfect for what’s known as rapid prototyping: iterating the package until it’s perfected. With paperboard, prototypes can be built on a drafting table, tested in front of consumers, refined, and tested again. It’s a fast and inexpensive process, and when the design is in its final form, making the die cuts for cutting cartons on a production line is relatively inexpensive.

6. Paper-based packaging is innovative

Paper-coated meat trays may soon be appearing in butcher shops and supermarkets, helping to increase the amount of recyclable food packaging. A six-pack of beverage cans can be held together with paperboard and designed with pre-cut holes for consumers to grab and carry with ease. With brands and retailers looking to optimize product packaging for recycling, paper has become the obvious substrate of choice for innovative, sustainable and practical solutions.

“What can we do with paper-based packaging?,” asks Dan Ahern, packaging expert. “Pretty much anything we want.”


Editor’s note: We spoke with Dan Ahern, director of global innovation & design at Graphic Packaging International, a leading designer and manufacturer of paper-based packaging, and asked him why consumer product manufacturers should look at paper and cardboard as their packaging solution.