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PACKAGING BASICS

Why Packaging Exists

The first form of packaging was probably the earthenware jar used to carry life-giving water to the early cave-dwellers.  As primitive societies developed and humans roamed further and further afield, it became necessary to transport food and other items of trade greater and greater distances, and to protect those products from damage and contamination. Jute sacks and animal skins provided convenient means of packaging.

Growing populations stretched existing resources and technological innovation blossomed, sometimes with unforeseen consequences. In the industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century, for example, millions of people were forced off the land by the rapid development of machine harvesting.  They flooded the major towns and cities of the world looking for work in newly-built factories.

This massive shift of people from the land (a trend that continues at a somewhat slower pace today) had a huge impact on society (and on the way in which packaging could deliver society’s various needs).
The vast majority of the population was now some distance from its source of food and means had to be found to ship large quantities of goods with the minimum of waste.

Modes of transport changed too.  The horse and stagecoach gave way to an extensive rail network throughout Canada. Then came roads and automobiles, which in turn gave way to trucks and specially designed refrigerated vehicles. General-purpose cargo ships became container vessels and the rail and aircraft industries became more sophisticated and efficient in their safe delivery of fresh and uncontaminated product.

Those countries or regions not blessed with land area or proper soils or climate to be self-sufficient in food production found they had to trade other goods in exchange.  So packaging distribution systems that were nationally and internationally compatible steadily evolved: the most obvious symbols today being the bulk cargo vessel for grain and oil; the wooden pallet for stacking and storing; and the sturdy, paper-based corrugated container to protect and deliver bulk product to wholesalers and retailers.