Paper Packaging Benefits

Whenever you choose paper-based packaging, you know you're choosing a renewable, recyclable substrate perfect for engaging consumers and driving sales. However, there are many different carton styles, each with unique benefits. This guide gives a brief overview of most common types and the best applications for each.

Folding Cartons: The Economical Carton for Customization and Printability

A type of paperboard packaging that folds flat for storage and shipping, folding cartons are made of 10 to 36 point board and can be constructed using a wide range of virgin and/or recycled board types (SUS, SBS, CUK, CRB, FBB, etc.).

Although not as strong or durable as rigid or corrugated boxes, folding cartons can be fluted for extra protection and cushioning. Known as “mini flute,” these cartons feature a small E, F, G, or N-fluted (wavy) substrate that is sandwiched between two liner boards.

Since folding cartons fold flat and therefore take up little space, they are economical to ship. And since they are printed in sheets containing many carton flats, folding cartons generally have lower per-unit costs and faster production speeds than rigid boxes. They also provide excellent print quality (color registration, consistency, fine detailing), and unlike rigid boxes or high print-quality corrugated, the outer surface of folding cartons can be printed directly, thus saving a step in the production process. Folding cartons also have aseptic and direct food contact applications.

Rigid Boxes: The Undisputed Choice for Durable Luxury

Generally larger than folding cartons, rigid (set-up) boxes are made of thick 36 to 120 pt board overlaid with a printed paper wrap. These boxes generally do not fold flat. They're available in a variety of striking structural formats, and the graphics for the paper overwrap (exotic foil or texturized paper, paper-backed fabric, or printed plain white paper) are nearly endless.

Visually appealing and structurally impressive, rigid boxes convey a sense of prestige, luxury, elegance, and quality, and are ideal for smaller, high-end items such as jewelry or electronics. Many consumers even keep and reuse rigid boxes long after the original purchase, and thus providing excellent opportunities for long-term product/brand recognition.

Unlike folding cartons, which are shipped flat and therefore require assembly before being filled with product, rigid boxes usually remain erect and therefore have lower assembly costs. Furthermore, since tooling costs for simple rigid boxes are much lower than those needed to manufacture folding cartons, rigid boxes are ideal for short-run orders (5,000+). And as rigid boxes often have removable lids or may even contain embedded magnets, they are generally easier to open and reseal than folding cartons.

Corrugated Packaging: The Unbeatable Box for Strength

Usually made of inexpensive brown Kraft fluted (or wavy) paperboard that is sandwiched between layers of linerboard, corrugated is most frequently reserved for shipping containers, and is sometimes used for primary packaging, point of purchase (POP) displays, and cushioning pads. In fact, corrugated can be easily customized for different applications that require varying levels of strength and product protection: flutes are available in a wide variety of heights (A, B, C, E, etc.), and linerboard layers can be double- or triple-walled for added strength.

Although corrugated can be run through a printing press, there are limitations, especially for high-end treatments. The best print quality and crispness for corrugated is achieved using mottled white or bleached white linerboard, or by printing on a label that is then affixed to the corrugated board.

  Corrugated Folding Carton
Rigid Box
Renewable and Recyclable x x x
Superior Print Quality
Sometimes x x
Wrap or Laminate Required for High-Quality Printing
Variety of Board Types/Printing Surfaces Available
x x x
Variety of Thicknesses Available
x x x
Ideal for Strength & Durability

Ideal for Reusability (i.e., continued brand recognition)

Ideal for Conveying Luxury

Ideal for Cushioning (Fluted)

High-End Finishing Treatments Available
 Sometimes x x
Ships and Stores Flat
x x Sometimes
Produced One at a Time
No Assembly Required Before Filing
Aseptic/Direct Food Contact

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© 2014 Copyright Paperboard Packaging Council. All Rights Reserved.