Clamshell containers are one of the most versatile packaging options for the specialty foods industry. When selecting packaging materials, food companies can choose between paper and pulp materials or thermoform plastics. While both have their advantages, here are a few key reasons why we believe plastic is your best option.

1. Affordability
When you compare paper materials with thermoform plastics, the plastics definitely win the affordability contest. Thermoform plastics, which are the materials we use here at Indepak, typically are the least expensive packaging options available. Not only are the materials affordable, the lightweight of your clamshell containers also can reduce your shipping and transport costs. We can create virtually any size or shape of clamshell container you might need, using materials that fit well within your budget.

2. Protection
When it comes to protecting your products, paper definitely does not provide the same level of protection as plastic. Plastic clamshell containers are tough and moisture-resistant, keeping your food as fresh as possible. We also can seal clamshell containers to lock in freshness and reduce the risk of tampering. Additionally, did you know that if paper clamshells become stained with food grease, you shouldn’t toss them in a recycling bin? Not only can this greasy box not be recycled, it also can contaminate other recyclables, but most consumers are unaware of this issue. With plastics, grease and food residue is burned off during the recycling process, but this is not the case with paper.

3. Appearance
Consumers like to see what they are purchasing, and using plastic materials makes it easy for your customers to take a look at your product. Even if you do opt for paper clamshell containers, it can be wise to include a plastic window so that consumers can take a peak.

4. Versatility
We can design clamshell containers in any shape or size. A plastic clamshell can include multiple sections or cavities to hold individual items. We even can design thermoform plastic trays and insert them into a basic clamshell design. This can help display your product to its best advantage and protect each individual item in the container.

5. Sustainability
When you think of plastic, sustainability might not spring to mind, but all of the thermoform plastic materials we use are recyclable. If you opt to create clamshell containers out of materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or high-density polyethylene (HDPE), for example, these two materials are accepted by virtually every curbside recycling program in the United States.

Of course, some paper clamshell containers are labeled as “compostable,” or “biodegradable,” and while that sounds great, this can be a bit deceiving. For instance, biodegradable materials typically can’t just be tossed into trash. Instead, they must be transported to a facility that can create the conditions necessary in order for the materials to biodegrade. Few consumers have easy access to facilities such as these, so the package just ends up in the regular trash bin, and, ultimately, in the landfill.

Compostable packaging can be a good choice if consumers place these items into their greenwaste bins. Many consumers mistakenly believe that a package will compost if tossed into the regular trash. However, the conditions at a landfill are not ideal either for biodegradable or compostable materials.

Plastic, therefore, can provide the easiest sustainable option. Keep in mind that in addition to using highly recyclable materials, such as PET and HDPE, we also may be able to create your clamshell containers using materials with recycled content. We also strive to create packaging that fits your product entirely, reducing the overall amount of materials need to create each package.

Overall, we believe that plastic materials have several substantial advantages over the use of paper. Affordable, versatile and sustainable, thermoform plastics can be the best option for many food and retail products. The team at Indepak has been producing quality custom plastic packaging for more than 50 years, and if you need custom clamshell containers, don’t hesitate to give us a call at any time.