Plastic has been the most used packaging material globally. Low cost, ease of making, and versatility make it so popular. However, paper tube packaging is giving a tough time to plastic packaging. It is being used by more and more industries and is finding global acceptance among industries, regulatory authorities, and customers. The current article analyzes the key differences between the paper tube and plastic box packaging and recommends which is a better choice.

Carbon FootpThe carbon

Carbon footprint of paper tubes and plastic box packaging can be attributed to different stages starting from their manufacturing process. Global plastic manufacturing accounts for nearly 3.8% of the total greenhouse gas emissions. This is twice the emissions of the global airline industry. To provide a perspective, if the plastic manufacturing industry was a country, it would be the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Sourcing and manufacturing of paper tube packaging also need considerable energy. However, its contribution to the global greenhouse gas emission is only 1%. This is made possible by using eco-friendly manufacturing energy sources like biomass, biogas, hydroelectricity, etc. A large percentage of paper tubes are made from recycled materials, which further reduces their emissions and carbon footprint.

1 ton of paper tubes contributes nearly 538 kg of carbon dioxide during its lifecycle- including sourcing raw materials, manufacturing processes, and disposal. Plastic is manufactured from crude oil, which has a significantly higher carbon footprint due to processes like extraction, refinement, transportation, etc. All plastic is not recycled and a considerable part of it ends up in landfills and ocean beds which is not good for the environment. It is estimated that 1 kg of plastic can have a carbon dioxide footprint as high as 6 kg. This is nearly 12-times the carbon footprint of paper tubes and cardboard used for paper tube packaging. Plastic also produces much higher emissions when it is incinerated.

Hence, paper tube packaging is more eco-friendly than plastic box packaging due to a much lower carbon footprint. It is becoming the preferred packaging option for industries and is accepted by customers.

Weight and Ease of Transportation

The weight of the packaging box is an important consideration for choosing the packaging material. Lightweight packaging material is better as it is easier to transport. Traditionally plastic was the preferred packaging material as it was durable and lightweight. Cardboard and paper tubes were heavier and less preferred. However, with the improvement in technology and production processes, paper tubes have become much lighter. Paper tube packaging is lightweight and easy to stack. This means that more products can be stored in the transportation van. Being lightweight also implies that more products can be shipped with the same fuel, thereby reducing the carbon footprint of paper tube packaging further.

Suitability for Use in Food Packaging

Packaging of food products requires more precaution and care. Food products are perishable and can get contaminated quickly. Some plastics are not suitable for packaging food items. They can react with food products and contaminate them. This can make packaged food unfit for consumption. Paper tube packaging is being widely used in the food industry. It uses a paper liner that is inert and chemically stable. The paper liner does not react with packaged food. This ensures the packaged food product is safe and completely safe for human consumption. Baby food products are also being packaged using paper tube packaging these days.This chemically stable nature of paper tube packaging is making it a popular alternative in the cosmetic industry too. Many large cosmetic and fashion brands are moving to paper tube packaging as a secure and eco-friendly alternative to plastic.


Businesses are becoming more environmentally friendly. There is a growing concern for the damage caused to the environment from plastic packaging over time. Plastic packaging is not eco-friendly as most of it does not get recycled. Such plastic packaging waste ends up either in landfills or ocean beds. They can remain there for decades or even centuries before degrading completely. Customers are also aware of the potential dangers to the environment from plastic packaging and are accepting sustainable packaging.

Even in the most developed countries with high recycling rates, plastic recycling rates remain abysmal. Nearly 75% of paper and cardboard packaging is recycled in Australia while less than one-third of plastic is recycled. In the EU, 86% of cardboard and paper is recycled, 10% is dumped in landfills, and the remaining is incinerated. On the other hand, only 40% of plastic is recycled, 30% ends up in landfills, and 30% is incinerated. Manufacturing plastic from new raw material has high emissions. Hence, paper tube packaging has a clear edge over plastic box packaging as it is eco-friendlier.


One of the primary purposes of packaging is to protect the packaged product. Paper tube packaging can be designed in different sizes to accommodate varying products. Paper tubes of varying strength and durability are available in the market. You can choose depending on the type of product to be packaged and shipped. The product is securely nestled between the paper tubes which protect it from damage. Paper tube packaging is durable and protects the product from damage during the long transit. It is also ideal for shipping products through sea routes that may take several days to reach its destination. It can protect the product from weather elements like wind, ultraviolet radiation, high temperatures, etc.

Plastic box packaging also provides good durability and protection. They offer better moisture protection than paper tube packaging and thus can be preferred for products that need more moisture protection.

Ease of Branding

Packaging serves the purpose of attracting potential customers. It is the first point of contact and visual cue between the customer and the product. In most cases, if the packaging fails to impress a customer, then they will switch to alternative products. Hence, businesses cannot afford to risk using bland packaging design as they can lose out on customers. Paper tube packaging provides the best medium for printing complex branding elements and design graphics. It is much easier to showcase branding and brand personality on paper tube packaging compared to plastic box packaging. The fonts, colors, graphics, etc. on paper tube packaging appear a lot crisper, sharper, and impressive. Paper tube packaging is a better choice than plastic box packaging if you want the ease of branding and captivate your customer’s attention.


Paper tube packaging is one of the most cost-effective options among all packaging materials. The manufacturing process for paper tubes is not labor or capital intensive. This results in the low cost of paper tubes. You can save considerable packaging costs by using paper tube packaging. This can help to improve your profit margins. You can also gain a competitive advantage in the market by passing on the reduced packaging costs to your customers in terms of lower prices. The storage costs of paper tube packaging are also less as they can be easily stacked over one another in the warehouse. Hence, if you want a low cost and value for money packaging option, then paper tube packaging is your best bet.  


When all the above-mentioned factors are considered, it becomes clear that paper tube packaging is better than plastic box packaging. Though the differences may not be drastic, it still fares better than plastic packaging on most fronts. With sustainable packaging and e-commerce shipments on the rise, the use of paper tube packaging is only going to increase exponentially in the future.