Plastics are strong yet lightweight, meaning it often requires less plastic to make a certain package compared to other possible materials:

The plastic film wrappers now used for large diaper packs create 50 percent less waste by volume than previous packages.

Over 4 million students a day in the U.S. drink their milk or juice in flexible drink pouches. Compared to traditional cartons, the source-reduced pouch reduces weight by 80 percent and volume of waste by 70 percent, which reduces storage and trash disposal costs for schools.

Plastic grocery bags are lighter and create up to 80 percent less waste by volume than paper sacks. Normal economic market forces cause manufacturers to continually look for ways to reduce the cost of their packages by minimizing the amount of material used:

An average polystyrene foam plate today requires 25 percent less polystyrene to produce than it did in 1974.

Plastic grocery sacks were 2.3 mils (thousands of an inch) thick in 1976 and were down to 1.75 mils by 1984. In 1989, new technology gave us the same strength and durability in a bag only 0.7 mil thick. Along with weight and size reductions, plastics can contribute to waste reduction in other ways:

Plastics have an increased life span. Their physical properties allow them to be used in multiple applications, while their durability and flexibility allow them to be used again and again. For example, some laundry products are being packaged in reusable plastic bottles. Small packages of concentrated product are used to refill the original bottles, helping to reduce total packaging waste.

Plastics are lighter than many alternative materials. They have consistently reduced the weight of truck payloads and allowed companies to ship more product in fewer trucks. More than 2.8 million plastic grocery bags can be delivered in one truck. The same truck can hold only 500,000 paper grocery bags.16

Plastics generally exhibit superior resistance to breakage and denting. This results in fewer container breaches and less product loss on the packaging line, and safer handling in the the home.

Manufacturers of durable goods choose plastics for many reasons:

Plastics allow highly efficient manufacturing processes (up to 99 percent efficiency) that increase productivity by 20 to 30 percent and reduce capital expenditures by as much as 50 percent.

Without plastics' resistance to corrosion, the product life of some major appliances would be reduced by nearly 40 percent. By helping them last longer, plastics keep appliances and other durable goods out of the waste stream.