Glossary

From technical terminology to industry-specific jargon, we aim to provide concise and accessible definitions to help you navigate packaging industry lingo

Adhesive

From corrugated cardboard boxes to plastic films, the adhesive’s role is to ensure that packaging remains closed and in place. In simple terms, adhesive holds two objects stuck together. It also enhances the visual appeal and functionality of packaging.

Biodegradable materials

They are commonly produced with renewable raw materials, microorganisms, petrochemicals, or combinations of all three. Under the right temperature and humidity conditions, they will break down into smaller parts after disposal. Still, unlike composting materials, biodegradable materials don’t have a set time frame in which they will decompose. We should not use it for composting as it can leave harmful oils and gases as it degrades. So, it should be disposed of with the rest of the non-recyclable waste.

Bioplastics

Bioplastics, such as thermoplastic starch and cellulose-based plastics, are a form of plastics derived from renewable biological material sources rather than from petroleum. Many types of these plastics can be biodegradable, and these are often items such as crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, and straws. Bioplastics are a more environmentally friendly solution because they can break down faster than fossil-fuel plastics.

Blown Films

Also known as tubular films, blown films are produced from synthetic resins by extruding plastic through a circular (tubular-shaped) die. The molten resin is stretched and blown with air to create a very thin-walled film. Polyethylenes such as LDPE, LLDPE, and HDPE polymers are standard resins that are used to create blown films.

Carbon credit

Also known as carbon offset, it is a tradable certificate or permit deemed to allow a company to produce a certain amount of carbon emissions. If the company doesn’t use the total amount of these emissions, it can trade it. One credit permits the emission of one tone of CO2 or any of the other greenhouse gases.

Carbon footprint

A carbon footprint is the total amount of emissions of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, community, or even product over a given period of time. Measuring and reducing carbon footprints is one of the essential steps for mitigating climate change.

Carbon neutral

Carbon neutral status occurs when companies achieve net-zero emissions, either by carbon removal and minimizing their carbon emissions or by offsetting emissions through projects such as reforestation and green energy initiatives.

Circular economy

An economy where waste and pollution are designed out, products and materials are kept in use, and natural systems are regenerated. It promotes the continuous use of resources through practices like recycling, reusing, and remanufacturing, rather than the traditional linear “take-make-dispose” model.

Underpinned by a transition to renewable resources, it’s based on three fundamental principles:

• Design out waste and pollution.

• Keep products and materials in use.

• Regenerate natural systems.

Circular Mode / Closed Loop System

A supply chain system in which products and materials are recycled, reused, or remanufactured to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. It aims to create a circular flow of materials, reducing the need for raw material extraction.

Compostable

For a material to be compostable, it must be made up of organic elements or plants, which will break down entirely in under 12 weeks and enhance soil quality. Unlike biodegradable materials, it won't leave any harmful components, and the microbial process that turns organic materials into compost can help to reduce waste pilling in our landfills.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility is a concept wherein businesses assume responsibility to incorporate social and environmental concerns into their business models. Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility efforts include exercising conscious sourcing practices and striving to lower the company's carbon footprint through mitigation and elimination measures.

Courier packaging

It is packaging that is specifically designed for the needs of the couriers. It maximizes the available packing space, offers high durability, and comes in all shapes and sizes. It often includes a branded design and can be rigid (boxes) or flexible (mailer bags).

eCommerce Packaging

It is designed to keep products safe in transit from the online retailer to the purchaser. It includes cardboard boxes for bigger and more fragile items and paper and plastic mailing bags for smaller robust products. It comes in various shapes and sizes, with or without the design.

Extruder

A machine that makes the stretch film. It consists of a large steel barrel surrounded by heaters, which melt the plastic resin pellets. Inside the barrel is a large screw to force the liquid plastic under pressure through a die to be made into plastic sheeting by either the cast or blown processes.

Flexographic printing

(Abbrev: flexo) An economical printing method, mostly done on web-fed equipment, in which a rubber roll, partially immersed in an ink fountain, transfers ink to a fine-screened steel roller carrying the design to be printed, which deposits a thin layer of ink on the printing plate. On the plate, the print pattern is raised, and the non-print area is lower. The ink is applied to the raised area of the rubber plate and then transferred to the material to be printed in the desired pattern. Flexographic printing produces remarkably sharp reproductions of multicolor work, including lettering in small type sizes.

HDPE

High density, (0.95-0.965) polyethylene. It has much higher stiffness, higher temperature resistance, and much better water vapor barrier properties than LDPE but is considerably hazier. It is chosen for blow molding because of its stiffness, stress crack, and chemical resistance.

Kraft paper

Brown paper or paperboard that is produced from virgin pulp in the pulping process. It is made out of natural unbleached wood fibers and has a characteristic light brown color. It is most commonly used as eCommerce and courier packaging.

LDPE or PE (Low-Density Polyethylene)

A resin base for making film. Porous and somewhat stretchable. Good clarity. Even though LDPE is a relatively transparent solid film with good tensile strength, it does not match the performance of the newer LLDPE. It is used mainly for heat sealability and bulk in packaging.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

LCA is a technique used to assess the environmental impacts associated with every stage of a product's life, from raw material extraction to materials processing, manufacturing, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. Typically, LCAs compare two or more packaging choices to demonstrate benefits or potential trade-offs of design and material. Taking a lifecycle view is essential to avoid making improvements in one area that are unknowingly detrimental to another.

Paptic® paper

Paptic® paper is a next-generation sustainable packaging material made of renewable wood fibers. It is distinctive in texture and appearance, instantly recognizable to consumers, and easily associated with quality, performance, and environmental consciousness. It was developed to reduce the use of plastic in packaging.

PE (Polyethylene)

Polyethylene, also abbreviated to PE, is the most used plastic. It is translucent, tough, and a waxy solid plastic that is unaffected by water and by an extensive range of chemicals. It has three classifications: low density, medium density, and high density.

Post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic

Materials that have served their purpose (used by the consumer) and have subsequently been recycled to produce a new product. These materials are typically collected by local recycling programs and shipped to recycling facilities to be sorted into bales based on the material. The bales are then melted (or ground) into small pellets and molded into new items. The new PCR plastic material can be used for various finished products, including packaging.

PP (Polypropylene)

Similar to polyethylene, it is translucent and stress crack resistant. It has a much higher melting point, thus better temperature resistance than PE. It preserves freshness with vapor and moisture barriers. Non-porous and excellent clarity. It possesses the ability to withstand high temperatures.

Recyclable

Packaging materials or packages that may be reprocessed into raw materials for subsequent re-conversion into packages or for secondary purposes. It needs to be collected, sorted, and then processed into a new product.

Recycling

Processing materials that would otherwise be thrown away and turning them into reusable material. In closed-loop recycling, materials from a product are recycled to make the same or a similar product without significant degradation or waste. This can be done repeatedly. In open-loop recycling, materials from a product are used to make a different type of product. Commonly recycled items are paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass.

Renewable energy

It is energy derived from naturally replenishing sources, such as sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources have a reduced environmental impact and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewable materials

Material that can be renewed/replaced, and for which production is therefore sustainable over the long term. They include quickly grown items such as wood, cotton, linseed, soy, wool, cork, bamboo, and many other natural items that replenish themselves in short periods of time.

Reusable

A reusable item is an object that can be used multiple times for the same or different purpose, conserving the energy used to make the original item. Many different items can be considered reusable, from packaging containers to tools and household items.

Security packaging

Packaging that is designed for shipping valuables such as money, confidential documents, and other sensitive assets. It offers a wide range of tamper-evident security tapes to ensure mechanical, thermal, and chemical protection.

Sourcing

All functions involved in the growth, harvest, extraction, and processing of raw materials, including the collection and processing of recycled and reused materials.

Sustainability

The term that is still being defined and whose meaning is evolving. Sustainability is about creating a balance of society, economy, and environment for long-term resilience and a brighter and more greener future.

Sustainable Packaging

Packaging that can be used or recovered and recycled. It is designed, sourced, produced, and managed in a way that has reduced environmental impacts. It aims to minimize resource consumption, promote recyclability or compostability, and reduce waste generation.

Tamper-Evident Seal

A seal that cannot be opened without evidence of tampering. It is widely used in security packaging when shipping money and other valuables, as it guarantees safety for the package's sender and receiver. It may be a tape, overwrap, detachable ring, sealed diaphragm, etc.

Virgin Material

It can be defined as unused raw material that has never been subjected to any processing other than for its production. Manufacturing products using virgin materials uses much more energy and depletes more natural resources than producing goods using recycled materials.

Void Fill

Types of materials used to close up the free space inside a box to avoid damage during transport. It can include foam, paper, air sacks, and bubble wrap. Besides keeping items safe, it can also be included to improve the presentation of the product.

Zero waste

A target of designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them. It aims to reduce consumption, encourage reuse of items and achieve circular economy through managing and recycling of the materials.