Continued innovations in the polymer industry have made polymer surface modification methods a subject of intense research. The importance and necessity of surface modification of plastics are explained, and the advantages of physical surface treatments over the less-sophisticated chemical methods are outlined. Currently available physical surface modification methods for food packaging polymers are reviewed from the food packaging perspective. These physical surface modification methods include flame, corona discharge, UV, gamma-ray, electron beam, ion beam, plasma, and laser treatments. The principle of operation of each method is briefly described, and the advantages and disadvantages of each technique are cited. The extent to which each of these methods can produce the specific modifications desired is discussed. Furthermore, the effects of each treatment on barrier, mechanical, and adhesion properties of food packaging polymers are also examined. Finally, an overview of economic aspects of sophisticated surface modification techniques, including ion beam, plasma, and laser treatments, is presented.