How to choose the right packaging materials

ITP Packaging

Protective packaging is essential. It’s the only way to ensure that your products safely and securely reach your customers, without being broken or damaged while in transit. In an industrial setting, protective packaging is also essential for health and safety.

But transporting chemicals is going to require very different protective packaging in comparison to shipping out electrical goods. As a business owner, you need to select the right packaging materials.

So, how do you choose the best protective packaging for the job at hand? We asked our experts at ITP Packaging how you can make sure you’ve got the correct protective packaging.


To choose the right packaging materials, you first need to consider what it is you’re going to be storing or transporting. Different items require different protective packaging materials, so it’s important to choose carefully.

In some scenarios, you won’t have too much choice. For example, you can’t carry liquids in a cardboard box or fill a fibre drum with petrol!

In other scenarios, you may need to ask for a little advice from the team at ITP Packaging. Foodstuff for instance can be stored and transported using plastic barrels, steel drums, or fibre drums, as long as they’re food-grade quality packaging.


You also need to consider how durable or robust the protective packaging is. If you have delicate or potentially hazardous goods, then you need to choose protective packaging that is actually going to offer protection.

If you’re selecting protective packaging for electrical goods, then you’ll want to consider the quality and durability of the cardboard boxes you choose, or risk your customer receiving broken items.

Steel drums are seen as the most robust option for many liquids and semi-liquids, but the reality is they can dent easily, leading to spills or leaks. Steel drums can also degrade over time when the wrong materials are stored inside (acids, chemicals etc., can react with metal alloys).

Plastic barrels might seem like a less robust option, but they bounce when dropped (meaning no breaks and spills) and the plastic doesn’t react with many chemicals.


Protective packaging needs to be robust and heavy-duty, but it also needs to be convenient to use. There’s no point sealing up the goods you need to store if you’ll never get them out again!

Different types of packaging can often be customised for convenience, or sold in a variety of slightly different formats for different tasks. For example, classic blue plastic barrels and steel drums can be sold as tight head barrels or open-top barrels. 

The tight head barrel is more secure than the open-top, but it’s more difficult to fill up or to empty when needed. In this situation, you have to weigh up whether added convenience is preferable to added security.


Reusability is key for business owners who want to save on costs, while also being environmentally friendly. The best protective packaging is already recycled and is able to be reused easily and conveniently.

Steel drums and plastic barrels have a potential lifespan of several decades when they are regularly cleaned, inspected and maintained. Their lifespans can be elongated further through the use of protective drum liners that stops contamination between the packaging and product.

Cardboard boxes can be reused if looked after, but the lifespan of a cardboard box isn’t anywhere near as long as that of a steel drum. Importantly, you need to consider what products will be stored and transported. It’s unwise to reuse a drum for different products if there is potential for cross-contamination.


UN ratings are important when it comes to selecting protective packaging, particularly if you store or transport industrial goods that are potentially hazardous.

UN ratings denote that the protective packing (steel drums or plastic barrels, for example) has been tested to a high standard and is fit for international usage. UN ratings provide an essential form of quality control, proving to you, the buyer, that the protective packaging you are buying is safe and fit for purpose.


We all love saving money, but the fact is the cheapest protective packaging isn’t going to be the best protective packaging.

For example, thin cardboard boxes are going to be cheaper than thicker, double-walled cardboard boxes. However, if you’re shipping items that could break, then the sturdier, more secure double-walled cardboard box is the better option. It might cost more upfront, but you’ll save money (and keep your customers!) by not having to replace items that have broken in transit.

Likewise, quality steel drums made from the best materials are going to cost more than low-grade drums, but high-quality steel drums will last for many more years. Overall, investing in quality, dependable goods is more cost-effective than trying to save money in the short term.


Choosing the best protective packaging materials isn’t just about getting the packaging itself right. If you’re a business owner, then you also want to deal with the best packaging supplier. Are the products you need available when you need them? Are they able to be shipped to you quickly and securely? Are there reasonable return policies?

With many packaging options available and so many variables to consider, expert advice and excellent customer service are an important factor to consider when doing business.


Protective packaging is an essential part of the supply and demand chain. At ITP Packaging, we pride ourselves on offering the best service and the widest range of products to meet your industrial requirements.

From steel drums and blue plastic barrels to cardboard boxes and fibre drums, we have a comprehensive selection of protective packaging, ready to be shipped out. Contact ITP Packaging and speak to our expert team today to find out how we can help you choose the right protective packaging materials.

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