Types of Packaging

There are three major types of paper packaging: corrugated boxes, boxboard or paperboard cartons, and paper bags and sacks.Corrugated Boxes

Corrugated Boxes:
Corrugated boxes are commonly used to carry heavier products such as appliances, electronic goods, wine, fruit and vegetables. They are frequently used as a bulk shipper, delivering many similar products in the same box.

Several layers of paper fibre give the corrugated box the strength properties required: a top and bottom layer (called linerboard) and a middle layer (called corrugating medium). The wavy, ripple-like shape of the medium in the middle gives the box its strength. Think of the Roman arch or a corrugated tin roof. A corrugated box always has this ripple layer (or fluting) in the middle. That’s why it’s called corrugated.

Corrugated board can be used for more than just shipping products. It can also be used to make bulk bins, partitions, furniture, pallets, gypsum wallboard, insulation, even a bicycle, an aeroplane, and other interesting things!

There is a website specifically on Canadian corrugated boxes (what they are made from, how they are made, the use of trees, box design issues, recyclability and so on). Check it out at:

A summary of corrugated’s environmental attributes is available here.Crate of Oranges


Also, we would strongly recommend that before you read about the next major packaging grade (boxboard or paperboard cartons) that you read this blog: What do you mean “cardboard” doesn’t exist? “Cardboard” is a much misused and confusing term. The blog spells out the differences between the corrugated box (above) and the boxboard or paperboard carton below. As it says, “cardboard” technically doesn’t exist!



Boxboard or Paperboard Cartons:cereal boxes

This is the thin, lighter weight carton commonly used to carry a single item such as breakfast cereal, shoes, crackers, a toy. It does not have the wavy middle layer (corrugating medium) to add box strength.

Other uses for boxboard include as cores and tubes, graphic board, partitions, and displays. Boxboard also has non-packaging uses, as the top and bottom layer in gypsum wallboard products, and it is commonly used and reused for children’s arts and crafts.

We recommend the  website for more specific information on Canadian boxboard cartons (what they are made from, how they are made, the use of trees, recycled content, recyclability and so on).

Toy Boxes


A summary of boxboard’s environmental attributes is available here.






Paper Bags and Sacks:

Grocery Bag
These can essentially be divided into two types: the paper bags used to carry groceries and/or retail items, and multi-wall sacks that contain flourFlexible Packaging and cement and are used for the collection of leaf and yard waste and organics (food scraps).


The website has more specific and detailed information on paper bags and sacks (what they are made from, how they are made, the use of renewable energy and trees, their recyclability and composability and so on).

A summary of the environmental attributes of the Canadian paper bag is available here.