commercial packaging materialDunnage is a term that is common in the packaging and shipping industry and refers to a variety of materials that protect the main products being packaged or shipped. There are many types of dunnage material and many benefits dunnage provides, especially when choosing the right type of dunnage. An experienced contract packaging company can help you evaluate and choose the right type of dunnage and packaging material for your products.

Types of Dunnage

Dunnage provides some sort of padding or security to products being shipped to protect loose, fragile, or valuable items. Most types of dunnage are inexpensive compared to the protection they provide. We are all familiar with the Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap and wrapping paper, there are many more types of material that are considered dunnage that provide benefits to the packaging industry.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap has been used for years as one of the most common types of dunnage and continues to be popular among big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. It is usually readily available at shipping companies like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Post Office. Bubble wrap is lightweight so it does not add much to shipping expenses, yet it protects a variety of items during shipping. Bubble wrap can be reusable which is another plus.

Foam Pieces

Foam pieces are another type of dunnage that is commonly used with electronics like computers, televisions, medical equipment, or sharp edge products. Foam pieces provide a protective cushion that gives a little to protect fragile equipment.

Air Pillows

Air pillows are another common type of dunnage similar to bubble wrap yet these lightweight thin plastic films are inflated with air and used to protect products from sliding around a shipping box. They are convenient to fill up extra space in shipping containers.

Vapor Corrosion Inhibitor, VCI, Bags

A VCI Bag is a type of poly packaging film that is made with added vapor corrosion inhibitor chemistry. The  VCI molecules protect against metals causing corrosion by forming an invisible, thin barrier on the surface. This barrier inhibits the corrosion process caused by exposure to water, oxygen, and contaminants.

Kraft Paper

Kraft paper is another common type of dunnage material that is inexpensive, although depending on how it is packaged it could provide less protection than bubble wrap. Crumpling up the paper to create padding helps to prevent it from flattening. These large sheets of paper are eco-friendly, reusable and recyclable.

Corrugated Paper

Corrugated material is also popular and inexpensive, and the cardboard like material provides a stronger construction over paper. Corrugated makes a good dunnage choice when shipping various products of different sizes or weights and if those items could potentially be exposed to moisture.


Pieces of wood can be used to secure shipments like equipment on pallets for industrial shipping uses. Bracing equipment with a wood barrier can provide added protection during freight shipments.


Using a plastic type of dunnage to brace products or equipment can be a more expensive choice so it is often reserved for valuable pieces of machinery and equipment.


Steel is another expensive type of dunnage and is typically used for heavy products, machinery and equipment.

These are some of the most common types of dunnage, although new technologies are introducing bio-based materials and alternatives to petroleum based dunnage packaging. Using reusable and/or recyclable dunnage material can provide cost-saving efficiencies and contribute to eco-friendly practices.

Why Choosing the Right Type of Dunnage Is So Important

The most important role that dunnage provides is protecting goods during shipping. Dunnage is important for additional reasons as well, the three most valuable benefits that dunnage provides include:

Protection against damage – protecting goods from sliding around inside boxes and protecting sliding inside of freight trucks is a critical role of dunnage. The proper dunnage can be the least expensive part of the packaging and shipping process but provides a valuable role when protecting fragile and valuable items.

Protection against moisture – products that are prone to damage from exposure to moisture such as electronics need dunnage that prevents moisture exposure. VCI bags provide added protection against corrosion with vapor corrosion inhibitor chemistry.

Shock absorption – dunnage protects products in many ways and absorbing shock when getting tossed around, dropped, or stacked with other boxes or pallets is an important role of dunnage.

Peoria Production Solutions has more than 80 years of experience as a contract packaging company.  We offer assistance to our customers in evaluating and choosing the best type of dunnage to protect your products. Contact us to learn more about high-quality and cost-efficient wrapping and packaging and why choosing the right type of dunnage is so important.


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