Shipping companies know that not every client will be able to ship their goods in standard cardboard boxes, so they offer a broader assortment of options. Here are five of the most common types of packing materials that can accommodate a wide variety of company needs.

1. Crates and Pallets

No matter what kind of product you need to move, crates and pallets are an important part of the shipping and packaging process. They act as secondary wrapping and keep the actual goods safe until they are delivered. Pallets keep packages raised off of the surface they are sitting on—whether it is the ground or the bed of a delivery truck. Keeping products off the ground keeps the packaging in good condition, and protects against dirt and moisture.

Almost all packaging companies from Toronto to Tennessee use crates and pallets when preparing their clients’ products for shipment. Some companies, like Pack-All International, use wooden materials that can easily be reused or recycled. Other shipping locations, like Nelson Company, use reusable and recyclable plastic crates and pallets. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages, but either will keep your products safe and dry in their packaging.

2. Shrink Wrap

Shrink wrap is used as both/either primary and secondary packaging. You can shrink wrap your actual product, like the shrink wrap around CD cases or loose notebook paper, or you can shrink wrap an entire pallet of packages to hold the packagestogether and make them easier to move.

Shrink wrap does more than keep packages together. It also provides puncture and abrasion protection as well as impact resistance. Plastic is also cheaper and more recyclable than corrugated boxes (source: Involvo). Shrink wrap provides the same protection when it is used as individual product packaging, plus it gives the contents visual appeal.

3. Vacuum Packaging

Vacuum packaging is a great option for goods that need to be sealed, which makes it a preferred option for perishable foods. Their compact design also makes them popular for dehydrated goods, or food intended for camping and backpacking trips. Vacuum wrapping eliminates oxygen from the packaged food, which keeps out bacteria, mold, and yeast. Food that comes in vacuum packaging will also stay fresh in the freezer longer than food wrapped in other types of packages. If your company ships any kind of perishable food, vacuum packaging will efficiently meet your needs. Vacuum packaging is also used for medical materials, or anything that needs to be hermetically sealed.

4. Preservation Packaging

Preservation packaging includes both shrink wrapping and vacuum packaging, as well as other forms of packaging such as jar canning, aluminum cans, and other types of protective packages like egg cartons and milk jugs. These packaging materials have one goal—keep the product safe, protected, and fresh.

Another type of preservation packaging material that doesn’t necessarily have to do with food is bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is a lightweight, inexpensive way to cushion your products and provide them with impact protection throughout the shipping process.

5. Shock Mount Packaging

For items that are extremely fragile, shock mount packaging is one of the safest options. The packaging contains built-in shock absorption, protecting the contents from shock and vibration as well as humidity, dust, and moisture. This heavy-duty type of packaging is typically used for fragile electronic equipment, or unstable chemical compounds.

There are many different ways to package and ship your products. Evaluate the needs of your company and products, and decide which of these options will work best for you, and will keep your products safe throughout the shipping process.

Read more: 7 Tips to Save Cost on Bulk Packaging