By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: December 31, 2023

What Does Dunnage Mean?

Dunnage is the protective material added to product packaging or to goods in transit. These materials are used to fill gaps to ensure that objects stay in place when they are being carried or transported, protecting them from damage by sudden jolts or shocks.

Bubble wrap, blocks, plastic bracing, kraft paper, and boards are some of the materials that can be used as dunnage.

Safeopedia Explains Dunnage

In many cases, transport companies are responsible for return and replacement costs when products are damaged in transit. Dunnage helps these companies protect their profits by ensuring that products make it safely to the customers.

The right dunnage material can also make loading cargo more efficient. Rather than having to spend additional time strategically arranging and rearranging the items so they won’t shift or move, dunnage allows them to be packed in the most convenient way.

Uses of Dunnage

Dunnage can protect products and cargo from:

  • Damage: Dunnage can protect packages and materials from damage when they move against each other or slide across the truck, train, or ship.
  • Moisture: Electronics and other items might need to be protected from water or moisture damage. The right type of dunnage can prevent moisture from seeping into the packaging and reaching the product.
  • Shock: Products can move abruptly or get shoved while being loaded, transported, or unloaded. Well-placed dunnage can be used to keep items securely in place.

Types of Dunnage

Common dunnage materials used for shipping packages include:

  • Bubble wrap: Used for fragile items like glass and ceramic
  • Foam: Used to protect fragile items like electronics
  • Kraft paper: A cheap and economical option that can be wadded or crinkled and inserted between objects to provide cushioning
  • Corrugated paper: A sustainable option to protect against moisture
  • Wood: Useful for separating and protecting heavy items
  • Air pillows: Sealed plastic bags filled with air that prevent goods from moving during transit and provide cushioning against shock
  • Steel: Protects light and fragile materials from being damaged by heavier materials – an expensive dunnage option typically only used to safeguard high-value products
  • Solid plastics: An effective but costly option, mainly used for industrial or high-value products

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