The history of packaging

Since prehistoric times man has had the need to use materials to preserve and protect his belongings.

The packaging of products, parts or raw materials is indispensable to us today. Our society needs to transport, store and protect 'things' and to do this it uses packaging, which can come in different forms and materials depending on the particularities of what it is going to house.

This need is not new in our time, since ancient times man has required protection for his belongings and this has evolved in parallel to the emergence of technology and materials and the context in which a good had to be protected.

In prehistoric times, between 10,000 and 8,000 B.C., human beings already needed containers or wrappers to store food or drinks. These, moreover, had to conserve what they stored in their interior in the best conditions and even had to serve to transport these goods when the man of the prehistory went out to hunt. These first packagings were clay and clay pots or baskets made with vegetable fibres.

It was in Greek times and later with the Romans, when the packaging evolved to adapt to the new needs of the time. Greeks and Romans were travellers and colonisers, so their packaging had to be prepared for long journeys. In addition, they soon became traders, which increased the volume of goods to be transported.

The amphora was the preferred packaging of these cultures, as it adapted perfectly to the product with which they traded the most: wine. Later, in the 3rd century AD, they began to use wooden barrels.

Crusades during the Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery initiated by Columbus in the Modern Age gave rise to new modes of packaging. These had to withstand the heavier goods and the blows and onslaughts of a long voyage at sea, as well as the rudeness and lack of technology for their loading and unloading. Wooden boxes fulfilled these characteristics perfectly and their interior was conditioned according to the products they were to house: fabrics to avoid movements or sawdust to protect delicate goods, for example.

Although it is noted that the first cardboard box was invented in China in the 16th century, it was not until the end of the 19th century that its use for the purpose we know today became popular. The Industrial Revolution and the need to pack goods with cheaper and lighter materials made corrugated cardboard gaining ground in the field of packaging.

Today, corrugated cardboard is still an ideal solution for packaging solutions, but there are other materials that are equally suitable. At DS Smith Tecnicarton we offer multi-material solutions tailored to the needs of our customers.