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How To Choose The Right Packing & Packaging Supplies?

As your business grows, it’s natural to become more concerned about your packaging options. You’re now probably thinking more about cost, suitability for shipping, and recyclability, not just the trendiness of your packaging ideas, and so you’re now considering the inclusion of plastic wrap in your designs.

But there are just lots of choices out there. How do you know which one will suit your branding goals best? This blog was written to help small business owners make that crucial decision.

Frozen Meat Section

The Frozen Meat Section in Walmart-Aurora Colorado

Stretch Film vs. Shrink Wrap vs. Vacuum Seal Containers: The Importance of Knowing the Difference

Retail’s most widely used plastic packing materials are stretch film, shrink wrap and vacuum seal containers. As an entrepreneur with long-term goals, you need to know the difference between them because:

The information can help you avoid unnecessary machine purchases.

Of these three, stretch wrap does not always require a machine. This elastic plastic may be enough, depending on your purpose.

Ensure that you’re using the best packing materials for your products.

Each plastic wrap type has its advantages and disadvantages, and you can simply match them with your products’ characteristics.

different plastic wraps

Optimize your packaging costs.

Awareness will help you assess your suppliers’ trustworthiness.

Packaging fraud and tampering do not always happen, but when they do, they can set back an otherwise thriving business. Each packing material has features that can let you detect signs of tampering, counterfeiting and other dubious practices. Even tiny bits of information like this will help save your business.


Which One is the Best Plastic Wrap for Packaging?

The choice depends on the purpose for which you’re using it. Here’s some important information about these three packaging supplies:


Stretch Film


What it is

Stretch film is a very elastic plastic material used for wrapping packages of various sizes and shapes. Most stretch wraps are clingy, so they can seal on their own by letting the tacky parts stick to each other.

What it's not

Stretch wrap does not shrink when heated but can melt or disintegrate at extremely high temperatures. It is open on all sides, so vacuum cannot be applied. It does not need heat or tape for sealing. 

How to use it

Read from our blog Stretch Wrap Buying Guide for Startups.

stretch warp packing material

When to use it

  • It can serve as the primary packing material or the packing material in direct contact with the product of the following:
  • A wide array of goods, such as cosmetics, food and other consumable household products
  • Metals
  • Agricultural goods
  • Heat-sensitive products like chocolate, butter, CDs, DVDs, etc.
  • Secondary or tertiary packaging for the shipment of the following: 
  • Packages with pointed corners
  • Electronics
  • Flammable items
  • Very large pallets of consumable goods

Advantages of Stretch Film:

  • Energy-efficient
  • Cost-efficient
  • Most films are made of LLDPE, a plastic material that is FDA-approved for direct contact with food and cosmetics
  • Useful for heat-sensitive and flammable items
  • Endures shock and vibration
  • Puncture-resistant
  • Protects from various environmental elements, e.g. UV, freezing temperature, corrosives, etc.
  • Extends the shelf-life of perishables for 6-12 months
  • Tamper-proofing
  • Enables barcoding and RFID scanning
  • Recyclable

Disadvantages of Stretch Film:

  • Load-to-load adhesion can occur with two-sided cling types
  • More film is required to keep moisture and air out
  • Not as glossy as shrink wrap


Shrink Wrap

Shrink-Wrapped Coca-Cola Cans

Shrink-Wrapped Coca-Cola Cans

What it is

Shrink wrap is a plastic packing material that contracts when heated. The film conforms to the products’ shape, keeping them in place as it shrinks. Many types have a high-gloss finish and can be colored, and these features enhance packaging appeal.

What it's not

Shrink wrap does not require air evacuation. It easily reaches its breaking point when stretched. It is not clingy.

How to use it

  • Wrap the plastic around the products without stretching it. A machine usually does this in large factories and warehouses.
  • Shrink the film with a heat gun or run it through a heat shrink tunnel or oven.
  • Shrinking seals the film.

When to use it

  • Primary packaging for most consumable goods except if they’re heat-sensitive or flammable
  • Secondary or tertiary packaging when shipping the following:
  • As an overwrapping for metals, electronics, food, beverages, cosmetics and other consumables
  • Very large shipments
  • Weather-proofing of large equipment, vehicles and buildings
Advantages of Shrink Wrap

Advantages of Shrink Wrap:

  • Packages take up less space
  • Durable
  • Cost-efficient for very large packages
  • Most films are made of polyolefins other than LLDPE, which are also puncture-resistant and FDA-approved
  • High-gloss and colored shrink wraps enhance shelf display
  • Corrugated packaging is not necessary
  • Does not loosen up around the load
  • Protects from many harsh environmental elements, e. g. UV, typhoons, freezing temperature, corrosives, saltwater, etc.
  • Extends shelf-life of perishables for 6-12 months
  • Tamper-proofing—any break in the shrunken plastic is easily noticeable
  • Enables barcoding and RFID scanning
  • Recyclable
Damaged shrink-wrapped pallets

Disadvantages of Shrink Wrap:

  • Adds to your costs and inventory as it requires wrapping and heating equipment
  • Cannot be used as the primary packaging for heat-sensitive items
  • Cannot be used on flammable substances
  • Heating and shrinking distort printed logos and barcode labels
  • PVC-made shrink wraps are hazardous to health


Vacuum Seal Containers

Uses of Vacuum Seal Containers

What it is

A vacuum seal container is a type of packaging that enables significant air evacuation and heat-sealing. Standard vacuum bags are made from a combination of polyamide (PA) and polyethylene (PE) plastics. PA is for puncture resistance, and PE is for thermal sealing. Tight seals and thick plastics are necessary to keep air out.

Air evacuation gets rid of oxygen, which kills oxygen-dependent bacteria and fungi. The process significantly retards food spoilage. It also prevents “freezer burn,” or the leathery appearance of frozen food resulting from dehydration and oxidation.

What it's not

Vacuum bags are neither clingy nor elastic. Only the seal is heated, while the rest of the bag is not.

How to use it

  • Place the product inside the plastic. Large factories and warehouses make use of machines for this task.
  • Evacuate the air.
  • Seal the container by heating close to the open side.
Vacuum Seal Containers

When to use it

  • Vacuum seal containers are used as the primary packaging and for the long-term preservation of the following:
  • Most foodstuffs, cosmetics and drugs
  • Metallic components
  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Some textiles

Advantages of Vacuum Seal Containers:

  • Superior moisture and microbial protection
  • Packages take up less space
  • Durable
  • Minimal use of food preservatives
  • FDA-approved materials
  • Corrugated boxes are not necessary
  • Protects from numerous environmental elements
  • Extends the shelf-life of perishables for years
  • Reduces product loss
  • Prevents freezer burn
  • Tamper-proofing—any break in the material is easily noticeable
  • Enables barcoding and RFID scanning
  • Recyclable

Disadvantages of Vacuum Seal Containers:

  • High initial costs as it requires wrapping, vacuuming and heating equipment
  • Adds to your inventory
  • Expensive machine maintenance
  • Cannot be used for very large packages or equipment
  • The lack of oxygen enables the growth of anaerobic microorganisms, which are germs killed by oxygen
  • Difficult to display products of different sizes—the unevenness decrease the products’ appeal
  • Can crease clothes
An Example of AMAC Technologies’ Vacuum-Packaging Line

An Example of AMAC Technologies’ Vacuum-Packaging Line


Compared side by side, each of these packaging types has advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the differences of packing supplies can save you time and money, which are advantageous to your business. Information like this can be used for future planning and investment protection.

enKo Products cares about growing businesses by sharing information like this that helps enhance your productivity. If you liked our blog, you’d love our products too. We offer the following low-cost, high-quality materials for product packaging:

  • Hand-stretch wrap
  • Shipping and packaging supplies
  • Warehouse labels
  • Sheet labels
  • Direct thermal labels
  • Dymo labels
  • Brother labels


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