Shrink wrap

uses and alternatives

What is shrink wrap?

The term shrink wrap is used for plastic films which shrink under the application of heat. These are categorized according to their shrink direction into biaxial (symmetrical) and monoaxial (on one side) shrink wraps. In industry, shrink wraps are used for securing pallets. They are also used for bundling or for protecting products. Shrink wrapping is generally manufactured as blown films, using the co-extrusion process, from one or more plastic granulates. The blowing process stretches the plastic molecules horizontally and vertically, and orientates them. This orientation disintegrates upon the application of heat – either with hot air or infra-red radiation, at approx. 120-220 °C – and the film shrinks. This effect can be exploited for tightly encasing products and pallets.

Packaging with shrink wrap – alternatives

Increasingly, industry is replacing shrink wrapping with elastic films (stretch films) and stretch hoods for securing loads on pallets. For strapping and bundling too, the trend is moving away from shrink wrapping towards strapping films. The following arguments favour alternatives such as stretch films:

  • application of heat unnecessary
  • more suitable for chilled products (no freezer burns)
  • improved energy efficiency
  • faster cycle times in the packaging process
  • flexibility of the wrap remains unimpaired
  • suitable for varying package dimensions

The advantages of our shrink wrap alternatives

for hot & frozen products


also for heavy products


resistant to tearing

Shrink wraps and alternatives from DUO PLAST

Our product portfolio includes classic shrink wraps as well as outstanding PE stretch films which make an inexpensive, sustainable and efficient alternative to shrink wrapping. All film variants offer your products optimum protection against damage and contamination, the best retention properties during transport and, very importantly, the application of heat is not required. This makes these stretch films an excellent, energy-saving alternative for packaging heat-sensitive products. The films are made of 100% PE and are available in transparent, coloured and/or printed versions. Please get in touch with us for more information.

alternative packaging without heat supply

Shrink wraps & stretch films


The new generation stretch hoods

  • thickness: 50 – 150 µm
  • width: 2200 – 4200 mm
  • prestretch: 50% - 100%
  • colour: transparent, white or coloured individually
More about DUO ROBUSTA 2.0

DUO Crystal Clear

Tray packaging without application of heat

  • optimal product presentation
  • EAN codes scanable
  • high machinability
  • as bundling and stretch wrapping film

DUO Food Contact

Primary packaging according to BRC hygiene standard

  • thicknesses: 12 - 23 µm
  • colour: transparent or blue-translucent
  • special designs on request
  • either internal or external adhesion
More about DUO Food Contact

Advantages and disadvantages of shrink wrapping

Advantages of shrink wrap

  • Tight encasement of the product or packaged goods
  • Protection from damage and environmental influences
  • Excellent fixation of the packaging
  • Low material consumption
  • Individual film thicknesses
  • Printing and colour possible
  • PE material is inexpensive
  • Recyclable packaging materials

Disadvantages of shrink wrap

  • Additional energy requirement (heat)
  • Reduction in cycle times due to the time for heating and cooling
  • Not suitable for packaging heat-sensitive products
  • Tight but rigid bonding of goods and pallet
  • To date, the quantity of material actually recycled is very low

Sustainability of shrink wrap

Modern equipment, techniques and blends reduce film thicknesses so that fewer raw materials need to be used and waste is avoided. Fundamentally, polythene shrink wraps are recyclable. However the recycling rates – the collection and recycling of used films – is still poor. The material is inexpensive and is generally not regarded as reusable. Here, the term sustainability must be viewed rather in association with the recycling process, than the recyclability of the shrink wrap packaging. As sustainable alternative films, we suggest our DUO FOOT PRINT or EARTH series, which strive towards a closed raw-materials cycle and use a high proportion of recyclate – entirely without compromising on film quality. We are happy to advise you!

Pioneer in sustainable films since 1998

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Shrink wrap material

The available raw materials are PE (polythene), PO (polyolefin) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). The shrink wrap materials have different product properties and are therefore used for different applications. If you are intending to purchase shrink wrap, you need to know the material properties:

PE – polyethylene

PE shrink wraps are very robust and puncture resistant. They are easy to process and seal. After shrinking, PE shrink wraps give the package excellent stability, as they are less elastic than PO films. They are frequently used as secondary packaging for bundling products. The shrink wrap material polythene is food-safe and is easy to dispose of and recycle.

PO – polyolefin

PO shrink wraps consists of a mixture of the plastics polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), as well as other components. These films are thinner and more elastic than PE films, are clearer and are available with different degrees of shrinkage. They are frequently used as fine shrink films for promotional secondary packaging on products which are destined for the end customer.

PVC – polyvinyl chloride

PVC shrink wraps are particularly resistant to heat and ageing. This makes them especially suited to packaging products which are exposed to the elements. As they shrink at relatively low temperatures (from 95°C), they are suitable for less heat-stable products. However, PVC shrink wraps are not as environmentally-friendly as PE and PO.

Use of shrink wrap

Sales packaging
primary and secondary packaging

They are used for promotional packaging in the non-food sector, for example, for cosmetics or books, but also for foods: e.g. drinks trays or in combination with trays for fruit and vegetables. After the shrinking process, fine shrink films made from PO or PE mould themselves tightly around the product packaging as a gossamer thin, almost invisible skin. Shrink wraps can be printed or coloured. They offer:

  • Tight encasement of the product
  • Surface protection
  • Securing against unauthorized opening/theft

Transport packaging
load securement

PE shrink wrap packaging is used in industry to secure (heavy or sharp-edged) goods on pallets, but also as temporary wrapping, for example, for packaging machines. They are generally used in the form of shrink hoods which are pulled over the package. Shrinking is performed manually using heat guns, or by machine using an appropriate packaging machine. Coloured shrink wrap packaging with UV protection gives products optimum protection outdoors. They offer:

  • Stabilizing of unit loads
  • Securing of loads against slipping
  • Protection from damage
  • Protection from contamination

Buy shrink wrap – versions

Generally, monoaxial or biaxial shrink wrap can be supplied as tubular films, flat films, semi-tubular films or side-folded films. Shrink wrap can be printed and is available as UV-resistant, anti-static, easy-sliding or anti-slip variants. Perforated wrap film is covered in tiny holes. Air between the products and packaging can escape through the perforations. This prevents the formation of condensation and mould.We are happy to advise you in a face-to-face meeting whether shrink wrap is the best solution for your type of packaging. Benefit from our expertise in plastic films and our years of experience. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Stretch films

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    This film can also be produced sustainably.
    • 100% recyclable
    • Bio-based from tall oil
    • Recyclate from used films
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