Wrap Rage – Package Overkill

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How many times a week do we bring things home only to find that the packaging is impossible to open without a sharp knife, pair of scissors or you just tear at the thing with frustration. I mean I bought a brush the other day it basically had impenetrable packaging and when I did get it open finally it was tied down with wire ties. I mean ridiculous.

What is it all about, it is not going to stop someone stealing the brush, it’s not breakable, it is not going to leak poison so what is the story with all this waste of time environmentally ‘unfriendly’ packaging. The ones I hate most are these child proof screw tops. I mean I have to go find my glasses, which is a challenge at anytime and match the arrows on the lid and bottle before I can extract my headache pill because it is impossible for me to see without my glasses.

From electronics, batteries , DVD’s to milk cartons, jam tops, I mean you need to be a body builder with strong wrists to get some of those jam tops off. It drives me crazy. In my opinion it is a waste of time and energy and actually puts me off buying some articles and bottled produce.

The hard plastic seal is called “Clamshell” packaging in the industry, apparently it is a cheap way to package, it is efficient , protects the merchandise and for the shopkeeper the packaging sits nicely for display on the shelves. For us,the consumer ‘Narda’, no advantage at all.

Another negative side to all this suck and seal products is the injury that it can cause.

In the US, one survey shows that 6,400 people were treated in emergency for injuries caused by opening this “Clamshell” packaging. I am sure there is a lot more

Another survey done in New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia  by catalyst Research  surveyed 500 people and found that 100% of them had injured themselves trying to open packaging.

What do we reach for when we cannot open the package? Of course scissors, kitchen knife, or something as useless as a fork, screw driver, saw, and, yes it has been known – angle grinder  and invariably what ever we us the chances are it slips and we stab ourselves. Many of us end up with chipped tooth because we have tried ripping a package open with our teeth. We have ended up with a bruise because our hand has slipped and we have smashed our hand on the table or wall. Broken a nail or in my case thrown it at someone and bruised them.

This packaging overkill has got to stop. It is possible, apparently in 2008 Amazon.com unveiled a Frustration-free packaging range and had great success with it. The packaging was recyclable and free from that hard plastic killer stuff and no wire ties.

‘Arthritis Australia’ recently implemented a review process which has provided recommendations on fixing accessibility issues with over 100 products.

Some one like my Mother, would not have a hope in hell opening some of these products. Number one she has arthritis and also suffered a minor stroke, plus she is 95, so her ability to open a lot of these products is especially limited.

So next time you buy something and the packaging is a challenge look for the Toll free  number and give them a call and complain. In some cases refuse to buy the product again. If enough of us complain they may take another look at their packaging and develop a product that is easier to access and not such a health hazard.

Having trouble opening that metal lid on a glass jar:

1. Run the jar under hot water

2. Turn the jar upside down and slam the lid down on a hard surface, till it surrenders

3. Turn the jar upside down and soak in hot water for a few minutes.

4. Throw it away



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3 responses to “Wrap Rage – Package Overkill

  1. Amen to that, Lesley! Having rheumatoid arthritis makes it impossible for me to open packaging, milk containers, jars, and basically anything that doesn’t come with a twist tie. It’s very frustrating! Great post!

  2. Designing tortuous packaging seems to have become a fine art AND science. Once I cut myself on a killer clamshell package I had successfully opened using military-grade scissors and when I sought out a bandaid they too were encased in a plastic clamshell sarcophagus.

    That photo you provided of a jam jar being water-boarded was most satisfying but in real life I get right down to business by whacking metal-lidded glass jars with the blunt edge of a knife blade.

  3. William Denis Guest

    No Childs Toy’s packaging should be more dangerous than the toy itself. If Clamshell packaging was a consumer product it would have been banned years ago.

    I have submitted the designs, photos and video of a re-engineered clamshell to the IdeasProject. The IDEASproject (Instantly Deployable Evolvable Assembly System) is funded by the five major European exporters under the EU 7th framework program. Submissions to the IDEASproject are open source and free to use without further contact. However it is nice to know if an idea is useful.

    My reference is my Google rankings on the fallowing searches. “Re-engineered Clamshell”; “Clamshell Injuries”, “Clamshell without Wrap rage” and “End Wrap Rage”

    I call it the “SafePak”, “Safety for the Consumer and Product”.

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