What is Packaging?

Packaging exists to deliver products to consumers in perfect condition. Well-designed packaging meets the requirements of the product while minimising economic and environmental impacts of both the product and its package. Good packaging uses only as much of the right kind of material as necessary to perform this task.

As packaging is reduced, the range of scenarios under which product losses occur rises, until the increase in product loss exceeds the savings from the use of less packaging material. Any reduction in packaging beyond that point is a false economy, since total amount of waste in the system increases.

Functions of Packaging

Packaging has a number of functions:


  • Prevent breakage (mechanical protection)
  • Prevent spoilage (barrier to moisture, gases, light, flavours and aromas)alt
  • Prevent contamination, tampering and theft
  • Increase shelf life


  • Description of product
  • List of ingredients
  • Product features & benefits
  • Promotional messages and branding


  • Product identification
  • Product preparation and usage
  • Nutritional and storage data
  • Safety warnings
  • Contact information
  • Opening instructions
  • End of life management


  • Product preparation and serving
  • Product storage
  • Portioning


  • Provision of consumer units
  • Provision of retail and transport units


  • Transport from producer to retailer
  • Point of sale display

Waste Reduction

  • Enables centralised processing and reuse of by-products
  • Facilitates portioning and storage
  • Increases shelf life
  • Reduces transport energy