What is hybrid packaging?

A large portion of the packaging you interact with daily consists of many different materials that work together. This mix of materials ensures the product stays safe during transport, on the shelf, or in a consumer’s home.

A form of hybrid packaging

Looking at each material individually, we start to notice that every type of packaging has its advantages and its place in the world.

  • Glass is usually found in stores carrying vegetables, freshly squeezed fruit juice, and other products meant for consumption. In theory, glass is very reusable, but it’s also quite fragile.
  • Cardboard is found all over the place. For many years it’s been a staple in packaging as we know it. It’s hard to imagine a type of packaging without even some cardboard in it.
  • Plastic is versatile and suitable for both food and non-food packaging. It’s relatively cheap to make and lightweight.

These packaging materials all have their strengths. But combined, they are even more robust. Something as simple as a milk carton isn’t just cardboard. It’s formed with several layers and multiple materials.

milk carton

You might call this a form of hybrid packaging. But is this what people have in mind when they talk about hybrid packaging? No. Hybrid packaging’s focus is sustainability.

Starting from the shelf and working backward

These hybrid packaging solutions should accommodate the consumer’s requirements. Starting from the shelf and working backward. One of the leading questions is “how will it be disposed of?”. And this determines what form the hybrid packaging will take.

It will either be a zero-waste concept that tries to reinvent a packaging material, such as cornstarch packaging, or developing a combination of 2 or more mono-materials without actually mixing them, such as packaging that uses a plastic inlay encased by cardboard.

With zero-waste concepts being either relatively expensive or still in the development phase, the choice is usually to combine mono-materials.

This choice is the safest because the laws and regulations around what is recyclable tend to change and differ from country to country.

So the question should not be trying to reinvent the material, but reinventing the way you use the material in your packaging.

For us, that material is plastic.

Removing friction from recycling

Depending on the type and composition of plastic, it provides multiple barrier properties. It is suitable for food and non-food packaging. Plastic as a material is versatile, lightweight, and flexible.

But defining how much plastic is enough and where our plastic comes from are crucial things to consider to be a sustainable packaging manufacturer.

For us, the solution was determining what the limitations of plastic were. And offering multiple 2-piece hybrid solutions that combine plastic with cardboard while keeping them as separate and easily recyclable as possible.

Because we believe that while the more exotic recyclable materials are interesting, they have their limitations. And these limitations exist because of the uncertainty regarding the law, regulation, and, in some cases, food safety.

The safest choice is developing hybrid packaging that is easy to understand. Using it and disposing of it should not be a hassle. It should be second nature. Hybrid packaging should work for the consumer and remove friction from recycling your waste.

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