Using Lightweight Packaging Alternatives For Your Shipping Needs


In our blog, Actionable Ways to Reduce Stretch Wrap Waste, we mentioned that decreasing the pallet load can help lessen stretch wrap waste. Of course, you may be concerned about product damage resulting from using lighter packaging materials when you do this. However, through modern technology, we now have a vast array of materials that are both light and sturdy. They have more benefits to businesses than most people are aware of.

Cargo ship carrying various freight containers


In this blog, we shall discuss the benefits of switching to lighter packaging substitutes and show you the inexpensive ways to make that change.

But first, we need to define the three levels of product packaging.

What Are the Three Levels of Product Packaging?


When you’re shipping or selling merchandise, you may notice that it has a few packaging layers. Having layered packaging helps preserve visual appeal right before the product is consumed and protects it during long-distance transport. The three product packaging levels are distinguished from one another by how closely in contact they are with the product.

The primary packaging is the level that directly interacts with the product. Its interior helps retain the original product qualities, such as scent, color, flavor, etc. If the merchandise is food, a cosmetic item, or a drug, the primary packaging should be stable and not produce any harmful byproducts when it interacts with the content. Its exterior bears the product labels required by law.

tin cans are the primary packaging for different beverages.


These cans are the primary packaging for different beverages.

The secondary packaging directly interacts with the primary layer but not with the product. Depending on the primary packaging’s size, it may contain less, more or the same amount of information on its labels. It contains several units of the product. It protects both the primary packaging and the product, and it may or may not be displayed in retail stores.

bottles and carton


In this picture, the primary packaging is the bottle. The carton is the secondary packaging.

The tertiary packaging directly interacts with the secondary level, but not with the primary layer or the product. It holds together more units of the product as it palletizes several secondary packages. The tertiary level stabilizes big loads during shipment, and it may only be minimally labeled for tamper-proofing, machine scannability, etc.

The plastic wrap surrounding these boxes is an example of a tertiary packaging material.


The plastic wrap surrounding these boxes is an example of a tertiary packaging material.

With this knowledge, we can specifically target the packaging level where we can decrease the parcel weight.

Packaging Solutions for Reducing Shipment Weight


You can switch to the following materials to make your shipment loads lighter:


Primary Packaging Substitutes


The heavier materials include glass, thick metal and wood. Plastics, fabric, cardboard and flexible aluminum wrappers can be used as lightweight alternatives. If you’re thinking of going green, you may use biopolymers in place of synthetic ones.

Note that your primary packaging has the most impact on your branding strategy. Consider this before you make the switch. For example, a plastic pouch may not have as much appeal as a red metallic heart-shaped box for packing sweets. But if you think you can sell it using a different marketing approach, by all means, choose the lighter substitute.


Secondary Packaging Substitutes


The heavier materials are wood, corrugated cardboard and thick metal. Alternatives include stretch wrap, shrink wrap, non-corrugated reinforced cardboard and other plastics. If necessary, you may use bubble wrap, foam, newsprint paper and packing peanuts for cushioning.

Foam has the added advantage of insulating perishable products. Sustainable alternatives include feathers, cork, and wool, although they may be harder to find in bundles.  

Secondary packaging is crucial for branding in most cases, so switching to a lighter substitute must also be given a lot of thought. 

Tertiary Packaging Substitutes


Before the turn of the millennium, most sweetened carbonated drinks were sold in bottles and transported in wooden cases like these. Nowadays, these beverages are distributed in plastic bottles, laminated cartons, or aluminum cans. They are secured together using shrink wrap or cardboard holders, bigger cartons, etc. as secondary packaging.


Tertiary Packaging Substitutes


Wooden crates and pallets are commonly used as tertiary packaging material because of their cost-effectiveness and availability. However, wood poses several problems during transport.

  • Wood attracts microbial buildup. Antiseptic sprays make it brittle, while methyl bromide fumigation is toxic and pollutes the environment.
  • Wooden crates and pallets are heavy.
  • Wood is prone to damage from moisture, which may result in product loss. 

Some alternatives to wood are the following:

  • For crates: stretch wrap, shrink wrap, reinforced corrugated cardboard, biodegradable or recyclable plastic and banana fiber.


  • For pallets: biodegradable or recyclable plastic, reinforced corrugated cardboard, engineered plywood and banana fiber blocks.

When you’ve found the right combination of materials, you’ll discover that shipping light packages is good for your business in the long run.

What Are the Benefits of Switching to Lightweight Shipping Materials?


Below are the most important benefits of using lighter packaging.


Low Pallet Weight Reduces Your Logistical Costs


In our blog How Shipping Smarter Can Help Small Businesses, we pointed out that lighter packages have lower transport rates. Optimizing package dimensions can also help increase your freight savings.


Shipping Lighter Pallets Maximizes Your Stretch Wrap


The amount of stretch wrap you apply depends on your pallet load. Additionally, human operators may overestimate the amount of elastic film to use. One way to ensure that your stretch wrap is optimized is to use lightweight shipping materials, which decreases the pallet load and reduces plastic waste.


Lightweight Shipping Decreases the Strain on Your Workers


Stacking, hand stretch wrapping, and transferring heavy pallets can all cause body strain and fatigue. Switching to lighter packaging materials can lessen work-related ergonomic injuries.

work-related injuries


Lightweight Shipping Facilitates Green Shipping


Using reduced-weight packaging is one way to lessen landfill waste. Carbon emissions are also lower when transporting lightweight pallets.


Customers Also Benefit from Reduced-Weight Shipments


Customers will appreciate your effort to eliminate the hassle of receiving heavy parcels. Additionally, you may choose to pass on some of your shipping cost savings to your loyal buyers.




Reducing shipment weight benefits businesses and can be done in different ways. Modern technology made it possible to choose from a diverse set of lightweight, durable, and sustainable packaging options. Growing businesses should consider this measure to maximize profits, help the environment and add value to their service.

First Time to Engage in Green Shipping? Let enKo Products Help You Do it Right


enKo Products supports green American businesses as we supply eco-friendly packaging alternatives. We have a vast selection of high-quality, lightweight shipping materials for you to choose from. What’s more, our products won’t let you go over your budget.

We offer the following inexpensive, sustainable packaging solutions:

Give enKo Products a try now and enjoy the most amazing discounts on eco-friendly packaging materials!


Leave a Reply