0 Parcel Packaging Tips, Guidelines and Advice
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Parcel Packaging Advice

Getting your parcel packaging right is important. In transit, your parcel may be exposed to adverse environments caused by such things as weather conditions and transport vibrations. Fortunately, there are many good packaging solutions for the protection of your goods*:

External packaging

  • Corrugated cartons—the most common and the most suitable way to pack your consignments. Whenever possible use a new box. Boxes lose their protective qualities the more times they're used, so a previously used box may not protect your consignment sufficiently. If you must reuse a box, make sure it's rigid and in excellent condition with no punctures, tears, rips or corner damage and that all flaps are intact. Remove any labels and all other old markings from the box. Double-wall corrugated cartons provide enhanced strength, which make them especially suitable for the transport of heavy items.
  • Original manufacturer's packaging—usually designed for shipments on pallets instead of single piece consignments. Additionally, it's usually been designed to ship the product once only. Reusing the manufacturer's packaging can therefore increase the risk of your product being damaged. Only use it on its own if it's been specifically designed to withstand impact and is in new condition.
  • Double boxing—is a way to use the original manufacturer's packaging. All electronic equipment should be double-boxed. Always make sure that the original packaging is in good condition and that the internal foam is not cracked or broken. Use a new corrugated carton that is at least 15 cm longer, wider and higher than the original manufacturer's box. Fill the bottom of the new carton with at least 7 cm of cushioning such as loose-fill expanded polystyrene 'peanuts' or similar. Don't use crumpled or shredded paper. The original manufacturer's box should be placed on top of the cushioning material and in the centre of the new carton, allowing for at least 7 cm of cushioning around the remaining five sides of the package. Fill the remaining empty space in the package with more cushioning material.
  • Padded bags—best used to send books, diskettes, videos etc. Padded bags, using recycled paper fibres for protection and a heavy-duty kraft outer are a common choice. If you need a stronger bag, then a lightweight one lined with bubble film on the inside to absorb impact is recommended.

Internal packaging

It's important to cushion the contents of your package properly. Make sure you wrap each item separately. Fragile articles need both suitable separation from each other and clearance from the corners and sides of the box. You should leave a space of at least 5 cm between the outer container and the product inside. This space should be filled with enough internal protection to ensure the contents do not move when you shake the container. The following are the most common purpose-made types of internal packaging:

  • Polyethylene bubble wrap—made of pockets of air distributed on a plastic film. Designed to protect and cushion lightweight items from shock, vibration and abrasion. Used in multiple wraps and layers to ensure that the item is completely protected, especially on corners and edges.
  • Polyethylene foam—for wrapping delicate items where a soft non-abrasive and lightweight cushioning material is required.
  • Inflatable packaging (air bags)—used primarily as void-fill materials for lightweight items. Not suitable for items with sharp corners or edges.
  • Loose-fill expanded polystyrene "peanuts"—used to fill the empty spaces in boxes around lightweight items. Overfill the box with peanuts, gently close the flaps and seal securely. Do not use with flat or narrow products that may move to the edge or bottom of the carton in transit. Peanuts will shift and settle, so it's recommended that a minimum of 7 cm of cushioning be used around the item.
  • Engineered foam enclosuresmay include expanded polystyrene, polyethylene, polypropylene or copolymers. Enclosures should be pre-engineered for specific products.
  • Foam-in-place—chemical mixture sprayed into the box or mixed in packets that expands and forms a protective mould around contents. The foam will form a mould around any product, supports corners and protects edges.
  • Corrugated paper rolls and inserts—may be added to the package to increase strength and improve package performance.
  • Crumpled kraft wrapping paper or newspaper—used primarily as a void-fill material for light- to medium-weight, non-fragile items and other items that are suitable for such packing materials. Must be tightly crumpled. Place at least 10 cm of paper between the item and the outer box.
  • Cushion wrap—single-faced corrugated paper coated with cohesive. Ideal for packing of books, CDs, videos etc.
  • Note: Fragile objects such as electronics, glass and ceramics require special packaging with added cushioning and/or a double box for safe carriage.


    Many liquid containers are not tough enough to survive the bangs and knocks of any normal delivery system, such as sorting impact or road vibration. In addition, the original manufacturer's packaging is usually designed for carriage on pallets rather than single-piece consignments.

    All liquid containers must be securely sealed in order to avoid leaks. Containers should be wrapped in an impermeable material and contain sufficient absorbent material to absorb the liquid in case of breakage. Bottles should be separated using cushioning materials such as foam or corrugated cardboard to prevent them touching each other and sealed in a plastic bag to avoid damaging surrounding parcels.

    Sealing your parcel

    For the safety and security of your consignment, correct sealing is just as important as proper cushioning. A good seal will strengthen the box.

    To close a box securely, do not use masking tape, cellophane tape, duct tape, string or paper over-wrap. A strong polypropylene or PVC "box sealing" tape 5 cm or more in width should be used.

    * Please note that Same Day Dispatch Services Ltd will accept no liability for the packaging advice that it provides. In accordance with the Same Day Dispatch Services Ltd standard terms & conditions the customer remains responsible for ensuring packaging and labelling are adequate for transportation.

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