A Guide to Choosing the Right The Best Types of Clamshell Packaging For Your Business

A Guide to Choosing the Right The Best Types of Clamshell Packaging For Your Business

Clamshell packaging offers a clear advantage for product presentation, but with various materials and designs, selecting the right one can be tricky. This guide explores the benefits and drawbacks of different types of clamshell packaging – thermoform, plastic, styrofoam, paperboard, plant-fiber, and sugarcane – to help you choose the perfect fit for your brand and product.

6 Common Types of Clamshell Packaging

In clamshell packaging world, there are a lot of different types, below are the most common types of clamshell packaging you need to know.

Thermoform Clamshell Packaging

Thermoform clamshells are available in three varieties: two-piece, fold-over, and tri-fold freestanding models. These clamshells are crafted from a variety of materials such as PVC, RPET, and PETG plastic.

Thermoform Clamshell Packaging Benefits

  • Thermoform clamshells reign supreme in versatility. Crafted from heated, molded plastic sheets, they accommodate a wide spectrum of product shapes and sizes. Their inherent durability safeguards your products during transportation and handling.
  • Additionally, thermoform clamshells can be tailored for complete light protection or superior product visibility through clear or opaque materials.
  • They are sealable for protection against theft and feature excellent tamper resistance.

Thermoform Clamshell Packaging Drawbacks

While thermoform clamshells offer a multitude of benefits, the traditional reliance on non-biodegradable plastics raises environmental concerns. Additionally, the manufacturing process can incur higher costs compared to some alternatives.

Plastic Clamshell Packaging

It's important to recognize that thermoform clamshells are a subset of plastic clamshell packaging. The broader category encompasses clamshells crafted from various plastic resins, each offering distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic Clamshell Containers Advantages

  • The clear plastic material allows for easy visibility of the contents inside, from that customers can see the product without opening the packaging. 
  • Most plastic clamshells are PET plastic, so they are technically 100% recyclable. So, for them to be properly recycled, all food particles and contaminants must be removed.

Plastic Clamshell Packaging Disadvantages

These clamshells share many of the same characteristics as thermoform clamshells, but the specific pros and cons can vary depending on the type of plastic used. Some considerations include:

  • Recyclability: Prioritize clamshells made from resins with established recycling programs in your target market to promote sustainability. This demonstrates your company's commitment to environmental responsibility and can resonate with eco-conscious consumers.
  • Strength and Flexibility: Select a plastic material that aligns with your product's needs. Different resins offer varying degrees of rigidity and impact resistance. For instance, a sturdy clamshell might be ideal for a fragile electronic device, while a more flexible option could be suitable for a plush toy.

Styrofoam Clamshell Packaging

These styrofoam containers are among the most widely used clamshell packaging types available today, and they are frequently used for both hot and cold food applications.

Pros of Styrofoam Clamshell Packaging

Styrofoam, or polystyrene, presents a lightweight and cost-effective option. It excels in thermal insulation, making it ideal for temperature-sensitive products like pharmaceuticals or frozen meals.

Cons of Styrofoam Clamshell Packaging

However, significant drawbacks limit its use:

  • Environmental Impact: Styrofoam's non-biodegradable nature poses a major environmental concern, taking centuries to decompose in landfills. With growing public awareness of sustainability issues, this can negatively impact your brand image.
  • Bulkiness: Compared to other options, Styrofoam clamshells can be bulky and require more storage space. This can translate to higher transportation costs and inefficiencies in your supply chain.

    Paperboard Clamshell Packaging

    Paperboard clamshells are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic options. They are made from recycled paper pulp.

    Paperboard Clamshell Packaging Advantages

    • Sustainability: Paperboard is a biodegradable and renewable resource.
    • Customizability: Paperboard can be printed with attractive designs and graphics to enhance brand presentation.

    Paperboard Clamshell Packaging Disadvantages

    Besides that paperboard clamshells also have limitations:

    • Durability: They are not as strong or water-resistant as plastic clamshells, making them unsuitable for all products.
    • Limited Transparency: While some paperboard clamshells have clear windows, they generally don't offer the same level of product visibility as plastic.

      Plant-fiber Clamshell Packaging

      Plant-fiber clamshells, a pioneering innovation, are derived from sustainable materials like wheat grain and chaff.

      Pros of Plant-fiber Clamshell Packaging

      • Biodegradability: These clamshells are compostable, addressing environmental concerns head-on. As consumers become increasingly eco-conscious, plant-fiber clamshells can elevate your brand's sustainability image.
      • Water Resistance: Unlike traditional paperboard, plant-fiber clamshells offer superior resistance to moisture, expanding their application range. This makes them suitable for a wider variety of products compared to standard paperboard options.

      Cons of Plant-fiber Clamsell Containers

      However, there are some considerations, including:

      • Availability: Plant-fiber clamshells are still gaining traction, and their widespread availability may be limited compared to traditional plastic options. Depending on your production volume and lead times, you may need to factor in potential sourcing challenges.
      • Cost: Due to their innovative nature, plant-fiber clamshells may incur higher costs than traditional plastic clamshells. However, these costs can be offset by potential savings in recycling programs or consumer preference for sustainable packaging.

      Sugarcane Clamshell Packaging

      The next common types of clamshell packaging is sugarcane clamshell. Sugarcane clamshells packaging greatly resemble styrofoam clamshells in color and appearance but are a far more eco-friendly choice.

      Sugarcane Clamshell Packaging Advantages

      Sugarcane clamshells represent a refined iteration of plant-fiber packaging, specifically utilizing the bagasse, or fibrous byproducts, leftover from sugarcane processing. This approach exemplifies the principles of circular economy by diverting waste streams into valuable resources. For environmentally conscious brands, sugarcane clamshells offer a compelling opportunity to showcase their commitment to sustainability.

      Sugarcane Clamshell Packaging Disadvantages

      However, it's important to acknowledge that sugarcane clamshells may incur a slightly higher cost compared to traditional plastic options. Nevertheless, this potential cost can be mitigated by considering the long-term benefits. These include potential avoidance of landfill fees associated with non-biodegradable packaging and the positive brand perception cultivated through demonstrably sustainable practices.

      Which Clamshell Packaging Should You Choose?

      For businesses, especially food businesses, selecting the ideal clamshell packaging involves striking a balance between product protection, functionality, and environmental impact. So which types of clamshell packaging should you choose? Here's a breakdown of the top contenders to help you make an informed decision:

      The best choices for sustainability:

      • Plant-Fiber Clamshells: These innovative options, made from bamboo or sugarcane, are both biodegradable and compostable, making them a champion for the environment. They offer moderate water resistance, expanding their usability. However, availability and potentially higher costs compared to plastic might require some planning.
      • Sugarcane Clamshells: A specific type of plant-fiber clamshell, these utilize leftover sugarcane materials, promoting circularity and waste reduction. They boast the same sustainability benefits as plant-fiber clamshells, but with potentially higher costs.

      Considerations for specific needs:

      Paperboard Clamshells: While not the most water-resistant option, these eco-friendly alternatives are perfect for dry food items. They offer excellent printability, allowing you to showcase your brand message and sustainability commitment. However, their durability might be limited for heavier items.

      To Be Avoided for Sustainability:

      Styrofoam Clamshells: Despite their affordability and insulation, their non-biodegradable nature makes them a major environmental concern. They should be avoided if sustainability is a top priority.

      Where to buy Sugarcane Clamshell Containers Wholesale Price in Canada?

      Understand business needs and requirements, KimEcopak, your North American wholesale partner for eco-friendly packaging, offers a variety of options including sugarcane clamshells containers. Made from renewable materials, they're perfect for the eco-conscious customer.

      Partner with KimEcopak for:

      • Wholesale Savings & Fixed Pricing: Enjoy bulk discounts and stable pricing for 6 months.
      • Immediate Savings: Get 5-7% off when you switch.
      • Free Storage & Scheduled Delivery: We handle storage and ensure on-time deliveries.

      For more information about the sugarcane clamshell, please contact us via email halo@kimecopak.ca or Kimecopak Facebook Fanpage.


      The clamshell landscape offers a wealth of eco-friendly options. Businesses can select the ideal material based on product needs, brand identity, and sustainability goals. Plant-fiber and sugarcane clamshells are leading the charge for environmentally responsible packaging. As production scales up, expect these innovative choices to become even more accessible.

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