Cardboard vs. Plastic – Which is Best for Packaging?

The debate about whether cardboard boxes or plastic boxes are better for packaging applications is complicated for a wide range of reasons. Both types of packaging boxes have their advantages and disadvantages, but they can both be used to store and transport just about any type of item. There are multiple factors to consider when deciding whether to use cardboard boxes or plastic boxes, some of which this article will explore below.



Cardboard is a considerably less durable type of packaging material than plastic, as it’s prone to getting damaged by liquids, fire, mould and the elements. Cardboard also can’t hold as much weight as plastic and is harder to stack without causing damage to the box itself and the items stored within.


Plastic packaging products don’t break or become damaged as easily as cardboard, as they’re capable of withstanding the effects of falling over or getting hit without incurring any damage. Plastic packaging is also less likely to get damaged when stacked on top of other plastic packaging products, which makes transporting these products much easier.

Waterproofing Capabilities


Cardboard boxes can become soggy and soft when exposed to water, liquids and moisture. This in turn will cause a box’s contents to become wet or moist which can cause damage depending on the product. If this is a concern, waterproof cardboard boxes are available that don’t absorb moisture.


Plastic boxes protect against water and liquids very well and aren’t susceptible to the aforementioned issues that cardboard boxes can experience. This means you can rest assured the product inside the box won’t fall out if the bottom of the box becomes wet.



Although both cardboard boxes and plastic boxes are made from natural raw materials, the fact is that trees are renewable whereas oil isn’t. Cardboard is made from paper that comes directly from trees which can regrown, making it a renewable material. Cardboard is also a material that will break down over time, as opposed to plastic that takes up space in landfill without decomposing.


Plastic is made from fossil fuels such as crude oil and natural gas. Sourcing these fossil fuels is problematic, as they’re non-renewable resources that will continue to be depleted the more they’re sourced. Plastic can also take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down, causing harm to the environment.

Which Material is Better?

In the end, which material is right for your packaging needs will depend on what type of product the packaging will contain and how heavy it is. Cardboard boxes are reusable and generally better for the environment than plastic packaging materials are, as they’re made from a renewable resource. However, plastic is a stronger material that can be stacked more easily and is less susceptible to liquid damage. If you’re unsure which option to choose, it’s best to speak to a packaging manufacturer to find out which type of material will best suit your packaging requirements.

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