Understanding the Differences Between Polyolefin Packaging Films

Posted on December 9 2015 by Jim Campbell


Polyolefin films serve an important role in the packaging and distribution of products. Two commonly used packaging films are Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap and Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE). Understanding the differences in the films’ properties and uses will help you determine which one fits your product needs best.

Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap

Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap is most often used when the product requires a shelf presence. The film’s biaxial shrink properties, meaning its ability to shrink equally in all directions, enables you to create wrinkle free, aesthetically pleasing, shiny packages. Products that use Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap include facial tissue multi-packs, frozen pizza, and perfume boxes. 

The film’s high level of shrink energy:

  • Creates a tight cast of film around the product
  • Makes it a good choice for individual or unitized products that need protective barriers or tamper evidence seals
  • Provides a film that’s thin enough for consumers to open quickly and easily

There are two significant downsides to Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap:

  • It is more costly as compared to other films
  • It has a tendency to shift during transportation due to a low coefficient of friction, making product stacking or palletizing difficult                                            

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) film is commonly used to shrink bundle products together for distribution, or to wrap or “bag” items to minimize potential damage caused by additional handling.

In the majority of bundling applications, LDPE film is removed prior to products being placed on retail shelves, as with multiple sticks of deodorant or trays of canned goods. However, the LDPE film occasionally serves as primary packaging for various single products like windows, shutters, and some rugs.

The toughness and durability of LPDE film offers several advantages:

  • Stability for unsupported and bundled products, as well as those in trays or on pads
  • Low cost and recyclability that makes it a sustainable option for many manufacturers
  • A coefficient of friction that helps the film form to the product’s shape and holds it in place during stacking or stretch wrapping prior to distribution

LDPE film also has a couple of downsides to consider:

  • It can appear cloudy, depending on the level of technology used during its manufacture.
  • It has limited shrink properties (50-10) that prevents the film from shrinking to a completely wrinkle-free appearance

Decorative High-Clarity Shrink Wrap and LDPE films provide distinct advantages, and being aware of the key differences will help you determine which one provides the greatest benefit for your application.

Contact EDL to talk about your product, market needs, distribution methods and packaging goals.

This entry was posted in LDPE