Packages fall into three categories: flexible, semi-flexible or rigid. Flexible packaging includes paper and plastic sacks, such as grocery bags; cereal boxes are semi-flexible and cans and glass bottles are rigid. Flexible packaging goes back a long way in history, but with the use of the youngest of packaging materials, plastics, it received considerable updating.
- Flexible packaging is the most “source-reduced” form of packaging, meaning it has the least amount of material compared to other forms of packages that could be used for the product. A flexible package adds little weight to the product and leaves little to discard when it is empty.
- Flexible packaging originated with the Chinese, who used sheets of treated mulberry to wrap foods as early as the first or second century B.C. The Chinese also developed papermaking, which gradually spread to Europe and arrived in England in 1310. Bristol, England, manufactured the first commercial paper bags in 1844.
- Discovered in the 19th century, plastics did not become practical for food packaging until the 20th century. Cellophane was first commercially used for packaging in the late 1950s. In more recent times, low-density polyethylene is used in bags, bubble wrap, wrapping films, and pouches, among other types of flexible packaging made from