The ultimate guide to stretch film and pallet wrap

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Stretch film is the often-overlooked backbone of many warehouses, in the UK.

Sure, boxes and tape get the most limelight; but if you want your parcels to stay well protected, stretch film and pallet wrap shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s thought that 150,000 tonnes of stretch wrap are used per year, so getting familiar with the product will only result in a positive.

In this blog, we will explore the benefits of using stretch film, along with the different types and application methods frequently used. We’ll cover common questions about recyclability and help you decide which stretch film would be best for your business.

What is stretch wrap

What is stretch wrap?

Stretch wrap is a highly stretchable plastic film (typically made with polyethylene) wrapped around items. It’s also commonly called stretch film or pallet wrap.

Due to the film’s elasticity, it keeps items tightly bound, stopping them from moving about during storage and transit. One of the most common uses is to secure products on pallets.

Stretch wrap is available in different colours, lengths, and thicknesses. The thickness of the film is measured in a unit known as a micron, sometimes referred to as mu. Usually, the higher the micron, the stronger the stretch film.

KEY INFORMATION – Usually, the higher the micron, the stronger the stretch film.

The benefits of stretch wrap

There are many benefits to stretch wrap; some of these include:

  • Prevent damage
  • Helps with the safe moment of goods
  • Minimising tampering
  • Prevent loss

Like most packaging supplies, stretch film is used to protect products in storage and transit, arguably one of the most important areas for customer experience.

If their order arrives damaged, it affects consumer perception and costs your business. The impact (if frequent enough) could be significant to areas like administration and transportation.

Do you know that 90% of your operating costs are hidden? To unearth them, we recommend the Packaging Optimiser; designed to save you money and reduce your carbon footprint, it’s the perfect packaging tool.

different types of stretch wrap

Different types of stretch film

There are three main types of stretch film that you’ll come across:

Blown Stretch Film

Blown stretch films are made using a circular die that extrudes bubble of film. Additives are used to provide high cling, and good load stabilisation attributes.

Characteristics of Blown stretch films:

  • Milkier or dull film appearance
  • High cling on both sides of the film
  • Excellent puncture resistance
  • Bi-directional tear resistance

Cast Stretch Film

Cast stretch films are made using a flat die and can be produced with multiple layers. They have a smooth surface with excellent gloss, strength, and cling without additives.

Characteristics of cast stretch film:

  • Clear and glossy film
  • High transparency
  • Film has cling on one side only
  • Lower noise when being unwound
  • Superior tear resistance

Pre-Stretched Film

Pre-stretched film involves stretching the film during manufacture. This can help improve film strength, load stability and even the amount of film needed to wrap goods.

Characteristics of pre-stretch film:

  • Good yield
  • Very strong film
  • Good for fast wrapping

Download our free stretch and pallet wrap guide today! We highlight the different types of film, and help you find the best application method and material for your business!

stretch wrap application

Different types of application

There are two main ways stretch wrap can be applied, by hand or machine.

Hand application is when stretch film is manually applied by hand, which can be done with or without a hand dispenser. All hand-applied stretch films are supplied on standard cores for use with hand-applied applicators or extended cores.

Machine application is when stretch film is applied to a pallet or product using a pallet wrapper. A pallet wrapper is a machine that automatically winds film around a product. Machine-applied stretch films are extremely strong and versatile, which saves time, resources and packaging materials for high-performance applications requiring higher tensile strengths. These films have excellent puncture resistance and good cling, slip and load retention.

stretch wrap


The possibilities are endless when it comes to stretch wrap; from different applications and types to varying strengths, you have so many great options.

To view the full range, click here. If you would like more advice to help to choose the stretch wrap for you, why not download the full stretch film & pallet wrap guide?

stretch wrap

Common questions about stretch wrap

Below we have listed some popular questions people have around stretch wrap. If you have any more queries that are not listed, our team of experts will be happy to help you.

Can stretch wrap be recycled?

Stretch wrap is made from low-density polyethylene (LDPE), which means it is a category 4 plastic material.

It can be recycled industrially but may not be collected at kerbside. Anyone looking to recycle stretch film locally should check with their local authority.

As it’s made from LDPE, you may be able to recycle it with supermarket carrier bag collections, however, it’s advisable to check services like Recycle Now or the collection points in your area.

Choosing the best stretch film for you

We recommend you measure your current usage and review your application before selecting a stretch film. The best way to calculate your usage is to look at your stretch yield in metres and your yield costs in weight. This enables you to calculate the effectiveness of your stretch wrap by calculating the cost to wrap a pallet.

Don’t forget, we have a full guide available to you, filled with more lots more detail. If you would like more advice about stretch wrap or packaging in general, why not contact us today!