Procurement refers to the process of obtaining goods or services. At ESM, our goods and services lie in packaging. Packaging is both a noun and a verb. In this article, we will focus on packaging the noun. In other words, this is a guide to help you understand the different types of boxes and materials used for shipping, as well as ESM’s packaging services.


As you read, pay attention to what the packaging is used for, if it can hold heavy or fragile materials, and whether it should be used for long-distance shipping. Also look for cost-effectiveness and see if it is customizable. These factors will help you determine what type of packaging is right for your product and your company.


Corrugated Boxes


This is the most common form of packaging. It is simply layers of paper and cardboard with a center that is corrugated (shaped into grooves or fluting). It is the corrugated layer that makes it sturdier and more rigid. Another advantage is that it comes in many different shapes, sizes, and styles of box.

Here are the box types you should know about:


  • Regular slotted containers (RSC). These are your classic industry standard boxes. They come in a wide range of sizes and are used in warehousing and storage.
  • Full Overlap (FOL). This is like the RSC, but the flaps cover the entire opening of the box. This requires more fasteners (like tape) but is sturdier and more secure. Your product is less likely to be damaged or disfigured. The FOL box can also handle more weight than the RSC.
  • Roll End Lock Front (RELF). This type of box has small flaps that slide into the front of the box. This gives the lid a locking mechanism. Without using tape or stickers, this box has the most secure closure of any corrugated box. It is used for mail deliveries, small parts, and subscription boxes. It is cost-effective and environmentally conscious.
  • Roll End Tuck Top (RETT). The RETT has a lid with flaps that tuck into the top of the box. Sometimes it has additional flaps on the sides (called dust flaps). These add a protective layer. However, this type of box isn’t the most secure. It is most often used for pizza delivery, pastry packaging, shelf storage, and non-shipping deliveries. The RETT is not meant for shipping.
  • Auto-locking Bottom. As you open up this box, the bottom flaps automatically interlock. It makes for fast setup and saves on other material expenses like tape. This box is ideal for warehousing, production lines, and ecommerce.




Paperboard is, not surprisingly, a paper-based material. It is made from fibrous materials such as wood or recycled paper. Surprisingly strong for how lightweight it is, it is also easy to cut and manipulate. This makes it ideal for personalized packaging because it can be made into custom shapes and structures. Paperboard is often bleached with solid bleached sulfate (or SBS). SBS paperboard is used to package cosmetics, milk and juice, medicines, and frozen foods. Coated unbleached kraft (CUK or just kraft) paperboard is a little more environmentally-friendly. It is good for food products and frozen goods.




This is like paperboard and is made from reclaimed paper stock. It is easy to cut, form, and fold  and is very cost-effective. Its strength will depend on its density, and it has a wide range of those. This is usually unbleached, but can be bleached if you want to print on the box itself. It can also be coated with Clay Coated News Black (CCNB) which makes it more durable. This box is meant for light-weight items and will weaken when it gets wet. You most often see this one at the grocery store as it is used to box cereal, crackers, and tissues.


Plastic Boxes


Plastic boxes are lightweight and durable and can store a wide variety of products. They can preserve the quality of food and reduce contamination. They can be recycled, but don’t break down easily on their own. Also, they are good for showcasing a product and films and coating can be applied to enhance appearance. Plastic is also cost effective.


Rigid Boxes


These boxes are made from highly condensed paperboard and are four times thicker. That makes them more durable. They also look fancier. (For reference, this is the type of box Apple uses to package its iPhones and iPads). However, they are also non-collapsible, meaning that you have higher volume during shipping. That, along with its fancy nature and durability, increases costs. But maybe that luxurious box is just what your company is looking for. These boxes can incorporate features like platforms, windows, lids, hinges, and compartments. They are used for cosmetics, jewelry, technology and high-end luxury couture.


Poly Bags


Poly bags are made from plastic polyethylene. These are light-weight, cost effective, and flexible. They are fairly durable despite being light-weight. And they can be reused and recycled. It is simple to give them a custom size, style, and design.


Poly bags can also be bubble mailers. These bubble mailers have a more durable exterior poly layer with a thin layer of bubble wrap inside. These are good for mailing small products. They are flexible so they shouldn’t be used to ship products that can break or bend.


Foiled Sealed Bags


These are another material you see most at the grocery store – they are most often used to package coffee and tea. They help products maintain their flavor and protect them from bacteria (thus increasing their shelf life). Along with tea and coffee, foil bags are used for nuts, cereals, smoked fish, cheese, and cured meats as well as for bedding and clothing.


Our Packaging Services


At ESM, we offer a wide range of materials in a variety of shapes and sizes. We will help you match your product with the right packaging services. Customized packages and printing are also available options. We work to make our services time and cost-effective to be more affordable for our clients. Our variety of services, efficiency, and genuine care make us the top choice for businesses.