From boxes of tea and band-aids to lipstick and skin creams, carton packaging makes a regular appearance in retail stores and online. Paperboard packaging is one of the most common forms of packaging for consumer goods. It serves multiple functions by protecting the product and acting as a silent salesperson by creating a product’s first impression.
Different types of carton packaging
Carton packaging can influence shopper behavior and decision-making, so it’s important to choose the right packaging for your product. As paperboard experts, we understand the nuances in different types of paperboard packaging and when each grade is best to use. Here are the six most common grades, properties, and applications:
1. Solid bleached sulfate (SBS)
- Also known as SBB/Food board
- Most expensive and premium board
- Frequently found in the US grocery market and with premium goods
The name “sulfate” comes from the chemical used in the kraft pulping process. The material is derived from premium virgin hardwood and usually has a mineral or synthetic coating on the top and reverse sides.
SBS can be approved for direct food contact and is the best grade for surface consistency. It has the best printability, better than average die-cutting and foldability, and works well in hot and cold environments.
It’s also strong and sanitary and the ideal substrate for aromatic products such as fine tea. With its premium nature, SBS is the most expensive substrate, widely available in North America, Canada, and Nordic countries.
2. Solid unbleached sulfate (SUS)
- Also known as Coded Natural Kraft (CNK) and Coated Unbleached Kraft (CUK)
- Strongest grade of paperboard, also made from virgin hardwood fibers
- Frequently used for frozen and wet products, such as beverage holders
As the strongest of all grades, SUS is popularly used for certain products, coming in at a lower cost than SBS. SUS is naturally resistant to moisture, and when enhanced with some coatings, it’s the perfect packaging for fridge and freezer products.
3. Uncoated unbleached kraft (UUK)
- Also known as UKB Natural Brown
- Frequently used for heavy-duty items such as telescope tubes and rustic packaging.
According to Business News Daily, over the past five years, there has been a 71% rise in global online searches for sustainable goods. Using UUK for packaging boosts your business’s sustainability score. As a natural grade, both sides of UUK packaging are brown and made from a blend of softwood (such as pine trees) and hardwood and in some instances, UUK may also contain recycled fibers. UUK offers a high-strength material at a low cost however, UUK doesn’t offer a crisp and bright application.
4. Coated recycled board (CRB)
- Also known as CCN, CCNB, Duplex, WLC, and GB
- Highest density board
- Frequently used for cereal boxes, snack boxes, etc.
CRB is a common solution for non-food contact packaging. Made from 100% recycled content, CRB is a versatile board available in several variations and its flow strength makes it an ideal choice for low-weight items.
5. Uncoated recycled board (CRB)
- Least expensive paperboard
- Frequently used as dividers or as a setup box
CRB is typically used with a discrete function and is the perfect solution for a cost-effective and functional paperboard that isn’t in plain view. Although CRB is the least expensive paperboard grade, it can offer great value when being used as dividers or as a setup box.
6. Folding box board (FBB)
- Best foldability but lower strength than SBS
- Great for printability
- Frequently used for items with a bleached top, such as band-aid boxes or cigarettes
When compared to SBS, FBB has lower strength but better usability because the material is comprised of one or more of mechanically pulped layers sandwiched between two layers of chemical pulp. The result is a box that leverages printability, smoothness, and brightness.
Depending on the coating and composition, FBB is priced competitively with SBS but it opens and closes with less damage and creasing and can withstand a lot of premium enhancements such as a gloss or emboss.
Quality solutions with Ritter’s Printing & Packaging
Packaging is a science and at Ritter’s Printing & Packaging we can offer professional insight for the best packaging to meet your needs. Call us at 954-771-7204 to find out more, or contact us online for more information.