Packaging and Labeling



Packaging and labeling used as much in the past, the popular time to use them were only for storage and transportation. Before the types of packaging we use today, people use natural material to build baskets to protect the product from things such as the environment, damage, contamination and theft. Some examples of different packaging that were used in the past were: woven baskets, wooden boxes, pottery vases, wooden barrels, and woven bags. Many of the materials that were used to make these forms of packaging were: animal skins, hollowed logs, grass, leaves and ect. Paper was used for packaging as early as 1035, it packaged mainly spices and vegetables. In the 19th century cans, steel and paperboard cartons, bottles and cellophane were used to improve food safety.


Labeling has been used to identify products since the early 1880's. The first commercial art profession was called lithography and it was introduces to America by European artists. In the early 1930's Stanton Avery invented the first self-adhesive labels, this label came with a paper surface on one side and the adhesive on the other. The inkjet printers were invented in the early 80's, it changed the future for labels. With the inkjet printers people started printing their own labels for their own labels for business and home use, they didn't have to pay the high cost to use label printers. Microsoft Windows program word also had label templates which also made it easier for people to create labels at home. Hewlett-Packard in 1984 introduced a laser pinter that could print 300ppi resolution.

Reasons Why We Package and Label Products

There are many things that packaging and labeling do for a product:
  • Protections of product: The product in the package needs to have protection from a few things such as temperature, shock, compression and ect. while being shipped and stored. Also helps products from being shop lifted.
  • Information of about the product: The label can inform the consumer on what they are about to purchase and whether its a food, chemical, medical, and how it should be handled, where to store it, if its dangerous, if its recyclable, and anything else the company want or anything that is required by the government.
    Nutrition Facts found on most food labels
  • Marketing: The label is also used to market the product and gain the attention of its potential buyers. A design is put on the surface of the package and also incorporated in the sale display to catch consumers attention.
  • Storage: The packaging can help store things easier and keep peoples shelves/fridges more organized. The packaging can also help products like food keep better.
  • Nutrition and Ingredients: Most food products have the nutrition guide which gives you how many calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, protein, and what vitamins are in each serving. The packaging also has a list of what ingredients are inthe product so that people can see what they are eating.

Environmental Considerations

The “three R’s” Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle are part of a waste hierarchy which could be considered in product and package development.
  • Prevention – Waste prevention is a primary goal. Meaning packaging should only be used when needed. Packaging plays an important and vital roll in preventing the packaged product getting lost or damaged.
  • Minimization(reduction) – The mass and volume of packaging (per unit of contents) can be measured and used as one of the criteria to minimize during the package design process. Reduced packaging also helps in reducing the cost of the product. Packaging engineers continue to work towards the goal of reducing the amount of packaging used.
  • Reuse – Reusing a component of packaging from a product is highly encouraged. Inspection, cleaning, repair and re-couperage are often needed to the returned packaging.
  • Recycling – Recycling is the reprocessing of materials into new products. Emphasis is focused on recycling the largest primary components of a package: steel, aluminum, papers, plastics, etc. Small components can be chosen which are not difficult to separate and do not contaminate recycling operations. Sometimes packages are designed to come apart easily for simple recycling.
  • Energy recovery – Waste-to-energy and Refuse-derived fuel in approved facilities are able to make use of the heat available from the packaging components.
  • Disposal – Incinerating materials and placing them in a sanitary landfill is sometimes needed. Packages should not be littered.

Kinds of Packaging

Food containers

1. Food Packaging

  • Plastic Trays
  • Bags
  • Boxes
  • Cans
  • Cartons
  • Flexible Packaging

2. Medical Packaging

  • Ampoule
  • Antistatic bag
  • Biodegradable bag
  • Blister pack
  • Retort pouch
  • Skin pack
    Medical Packaging
  • Tube (container)

4. Electronics

  • Sheet metal
  • Cast metal
  • Machined metal
  • Molded plastic
  • Potting (encapsulation)
  • Porosity Sealing or Impregnation
  • Liquid filling
  • Conformal coating
  • Glob-top
  • Hermetic metal/glass cases
  • Hermetic ceramic packages
  • Printed circuit assemblies

Packaging and Label Machines

Packaging Machine Types

  • Shrink Wrap - printing, software boxes, CD's, tapes, gift boxes
  • Bag Sealers - Ever imaginable item
  • Bundling - cases of water, tuna cases, cases of food, beverages, shipping items
  • Blister Packaging - Medicine packaging fishing lures, kids small toys, portion control pharmaceutical (see in video)
  • Skin Packaging - machine tools, instruments, items that need to be held securely to a card
  • Vacum Forming - clam shells, blisters
  • Vacum Sealing - food, electronics, coffee beans
  • Scales and Fillings - coffee, coffee beans, beans, seeds, parts, candy
  • Strapping - pallets of paper, boxes and cartons that contain heavy items, anti theft use, lumber, pipes and other large items
  • Taping System - boxes and cartons
  • Pallet Wrap - pallets, produce, large items to be shipped
  • Stretch Wrap - pallets, produce, large items to be shipped
  • Orbital Wrapping - luggage at airports, pipes, timber, metal trim, wood trim

Labelling Machine Examples:



Signage and Symbols Used on Packaging

There are a vast amount of symbols for package labeling that are nationally and internationally standardized. For consumer packaging, symbols exist for product certifications, proof of purchase, trademarks, etc. Some of these requirements and symbols exist to warn the consumer about use and safety. There are also environmental and recycling symbols that are used on products.
Bar codes, Universal Product Codes, and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) labels are commonly used to allow automated information management in logistics and retailing.
Some examples of these symbols:
WHMIS warning symbols
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