The Lifecycle of Bag-in-Box: How to Reduce Food and Packaging Waste

Have you ever wondered how a Bag-in-Box packaging is made? How sustainability influences the different stages of its life cycle? DS Smith Plastics, a leading Bag-in-Box producer takes you on a journey.

At DS Smith we understand stakeholders’ increasing interest in the composition of their packaging. Does my packaging have the ‘right amount’ of material? Can it be considered sustainable? What are the changes involved in the life of our packaging? Most of us are very familiar with what a Bag-in-Box looks like, but… Do we know how it’s made of? Furthermore, do we know how it performs when compared with other packaging alternatives?

This article will take you on a journey through all the stages of a Bag-in-Box packaging lifecycle.

Let’s start right at the beginning with the Bag-in-Box packaging material composition.

At DS Smith product safety is of upmost importance to us, therefore we choose high quality raw materials that comply with European and USA food packaging standards.

Bag-in-Box packaging is composed of an outer cardboard box (secondary packaging), a plastics bag (primary packaging) that contains the product, and a dispensing tap.

  • The outer box is the visible part of a Bag-in-Box packaging that holds the flexible bag in-place, and it is made of corrugated cardboard. Cardboard packaging has one of the strongest recycling infrastructures of any material. It is 100% recyclable and contains approximately 88% recycled content.
  • The flexible plastic bag contains the product and all materials comply with the food packaging regulations per EU Directive 10/2011 requirements, and those of the FDA CFR 21.177 in the USA. All materials used are free from phthalates and Bisphenol A.
  • Bag-in-Box dispensing taps- raw material requirements follow similar principals. Polymers and pigments containing heavy metals are not used in compliance with CONEG standards and EU Directive 94/62 EC (UK SI 1998 No.1165).

About the Bag-in-Box packaging design and production

Bag-in-Box bags use 70-80% less waste than wine bottles and are four times lighter on average than HDPE alternatives. The corrugated outer box makes this packaging format strong, optimised and stackable for maximum efficiency in the supply chain.The plastic bag inside a Bag-in-Box packaging is energy efficient. One tonne of plastics (more than 10,000 bags) only requires 100 kWh (Kilowatts/hour) to produce. That is equal a VW Golf or Toyota Prius driving at 55mph for four hours. In addition, the outer carton box is designed to be resource efficient and as lightweight as possible without compromising protection of the product.

Transporting the Bag-in-Box packaging to providers filling equipment lines.

When the Bag-in-Box packaging leaves DS Smith Plastics’ manufacturing facilities it is flat-packed. In other words, the empty Bag-in-Box packaging uses 45% less storage and transportation space when compared to empty bottles and other traditional rigid containers.  Savings in logistics and transportation include optimisation of supply chain, warehouse space utilisation (up to 5 times less than other packaging) and reduction in the number of trucks required. Furthermore, by reducing the number of trucks in the road we reduce carbon emissions.

The Bag-in-Box packaging in action.

Once the product is in use, either in our customer’s facilities or in the consumers’ home, the Bag-in-Box packaging substantially reduces food waste.


  • Bag-in-Box bags are designed for 99% product evacuation. That is, only 1% or less of the product is wasted.
  • Bag-in-Box bags and dispensers are designed to prevent oxygen ingress into the packaging, resulting in longer shelf life of products once they are opened from the first time.

This is a huge benefit to all Bag-in-Box consumers. In the case of wine, an opened wine lasts up to six weeks compared to less than one week for wine in a bottle. In the case of Bag-in-Box milk, the shelf life after it is opened is up to four weeks.

So now… the question that is burning in everyone’s mind. What happens at the end of Bag-in-Box packaging product life?  

DS Smith Plastics designs for recyclability and we rely on customers and end users to dispose of the product appropriately and responsibly. The most important action required is to separate the bag from the box, which is hygienic and very easy to do.

The outer corrugated carton is 100% recyclable and can be disposed of in your dry mixed recyclables bin. The inner bag is also recyclable. In Europe PE bags have a recycling rate of 31%, rising to 43% in B2B environments. Check your local recycling facilities, or contact DS Smith Rapak for our recycling recommendations.

Now that you understand the lifecycle of a Bag-in-Box Packaging, we hope you see why, at DS Smith, we believe it is a more sustainable packaging solution compared to alternatives. To know more, please visit  our sustainability page

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