Rigid Vs Flexible Waste Packaging: What Are the Differences?

Last Updated On Oct 6, 2022

The need for efficient and effective waste packaging solutions has never been greater in our increasingly industrialized, globalized world. As one of the leading contributors to environmental waste, U.S. businesses have an obligation to find the best ways to package and dispose of their products.

That's where rigid and flexible waste packaging comes in. These two types of packaging services make waste management more efficient. 

In this guide, we will explore the differences between these two types of waste packaging. We’ll also discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

What is Rigid Waste Packaging?

Rigid waste packaging is a type of packaging that is made from solid, inflexible materials.

As you’ve likely guessed, rigid waste packaging isn’t crushable. It can maintain its structural integrity, even under immense pressure.

Some examples of rigid waste packaging include:

  • Dry cask storage
  • 55-gallon barrels (typically made of metal or plastic)

What Are the Advantages of Rigid Waste Packaging?

  • Durable

When you’re using metal or plastic waste containers, you don't really have to worry about them breaking or tearing. They are built for strength and can usually take a beating without showing any wear.

  • Heat Protection 

Rigid waste packaging solutions offer better heat protection than their flexible counterparts. That’s because the materials used to construct rigid packaging can withstand melting and burning. Rigid packaging would likely be the better option if you need to transport waste that’s exposed to high temperatures.

  • Easy to Stack and Store

The shape and edges of rigid waste packaging containers make them easy to stack for storage and transport. This may appeal to users who plan to keep the waste for an extended period – or who need to transport a lot of waste over long distances.

  • Recyclable

One of the biggest advantages of rigid waste packaging containers is that you can easily recycle them. Some users will reuse their rigid waste packaging to conserve resources. Alternatively, they can be used for scrap metal or other purposes.

What Are the Disadvantages of Rigid Waste Packaging?

  • Expensive 

Rigid waste packaging solutions are usually more expensive than their flexible counterparts, due to their heavy-duty materials. They also require more human resources and/or machinery to move them around, which adds to the overall cost. 

  • Difficult to Transport

The weight and size of rigid containers can make them difficult to transport. They require a great deal of manpower and/or machinery to move them around – which can be a problem if you have limited resources.

  • Not Collapsible/Compressible

Although the sturdiness of rigid containers makes them more durable, it also causes them to take up more space.

Even when they are not in use, they will occupy the same amount of space. If you cannot find a place to store a 55-gallon waste container, you may be better off with a more flexible option that you can collapse and store. 

  • Higher Environmental Impact

Rigid waste packaging solutions usually have a higher environmental impact than their flexible counterparts. This is because of the materials used to construct them – such as metal and non-biodegradable plastic. 

What is Flexible Waste Packaging?

Flexible waste packaging is a type of packaging that is made from soft, pliable materials. Its core advantage is that it can be easily compressed, making it easier to transport and store. 

In addition, flexible waste packaging is often made from high-strength polymeric materials, which still allows them to withstand a great deal of pressure.

What Are the Advantages of Flexible Waste Packaging?

  • Lightweight 

The soft, pliable nature of flexible packaging makes it lightweight and easy to transport. In fact, some of our custom flexible waste packaging solutions only require one person to lift. This is a significant advantage if you have limited resources or simply don't want to deal with the hassle of moving heavy containers around.

  • Collapsible/Compressible

As the name suggests, flexible waste packaging can be compressed or collapsed when it's not in use. This means that it takes up less space than rigid packaging, which is ideal if you have limited storage space or if you want to save room for other purposes.

  • Reduced Carbon Footprint

Since work trucks can carry plenty of flexible packaging at one time, you'll likely need to take fewer trips to transport the same amount of waste. This reduces the number of vehicle miles traveled and lowers the company's carbon footprint. So, if you're looking for a way to reduce your environmental impact, flexible waste packaging could be a great solution.

  • Cost-Effective 

In addition to being more environmentally friendly, flexible waste packaging is also more cost-effective than rigid packaging. This is partly because it requires fewer human resources and machinery to move around. It’s also because they can be compressed or collapsed, so they reduce travel and storage costs.

What Are the Disadvantages of Flexible Waste Packaging?

  • Not Suitable for All Waste Types 

Flexible waste packaging is not suitable for all types of waste. For example, hot or radioactive waste could melt the packaging and cause a dangerous leak. Also, content with high moisture levels could result in deterioration over time. 

  • Reduced Durability

The soft, pliable nature of flexible packaging also makes it less durable than rigid packaging. So, if you're looking for a solution that can withstand harsh conditions, you may want to consider a different option.

  • Not Accepted at All Disposing Sites

Although flexible waste packaging is becoming more popular, some disposing of sites still do not accept them. You'll need to check with your local waste management company to see if they will take them before you make the switch.


Overall, both rigid and flexible waste packaging have their own advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a solution for your business, it's important to consider the type of waste you'll be dealing with, as well as your budget and environmental goals. Check out our ultimate guide to waste packaging for in-depth knowledge on Rigid Vs Flexible packaging. 

Are you looking to invest in flexible waste packaging? Get a free, no-obligation quote today!

Topics: flexible waste packaging rigid waste packaging