When asked what types of packaging materials their companies used, paperboard/corrugated was mentioned most frequently with an average percent share of 39 percent. Paperboard has long been the largest material segment of the packaging market as it is widely used in folding cartons and secondary packaging. In recent years, its use has languished somewhat, but now seems to be picking up. Some of this can be attributed to its increasing use for all types of products being shipped in e-commerce.

Not surprisingly, pouches and flexible packaging were the second-most mentioned materials, with an average 22 percent share of use in companies. This burgeoning segment continues its growth, as pouches in particular are increasingly being used in favor of forms of other packaging. Flexible packaging’s advantages lie in its lower weights and reduced costs, as wells as the ability for the brand owner to project a strong product image. While pouches’ reduced material usage is seen as a positive in terms of the amount of waste it produces, there are concerns about its sustainability since many flexible packages cannot be recycled and they don’t biodegrade easily.

Rigid and thermoformed plastic packaging was cited with 17 percent average share,  while metal usage averages 9 percent and glass 8 percent.