Remember the days when your family gathered around the kinara or the menorah or the Christmas tree to open presents? Your little brother ripped open the wrapping paper to reveal a new action figure or screwdriver or some other wonder wrapped in impenetrable plastic packaging. Then the weapons came out – scissors and kitchen knives and brute strength did battle with that most aggravating of plastic packaging – the clamshell.
According to a story by the New York Times, Christmas and birthdays may be a little less dangerous this year thanks to changes in the economy and high oil prices. Retailers and manufacturers around the U.S. are starting to move away from plastic packaging like the clamshell, in favor of cheaper substitutes.
“With the instability in petroleum-based materials, people said we need an alternative to the clamshell,” Jeff Kellogg, vice president for consumer electronics and security packaging at the packaging company MeadWestvaco Corporation" href="http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/meadwestvaco_corporation/index.html?inline=nyt-org">MeadWestvaco, told the Times.
Amazon pioneered the field in 2008, with the advent of its Frustration Free Packaging campaign. The online retailer cut clamshell packaging and plastic-coated twist ties from its packaging process, instead shipping products in 100 percent recyclable boxes.
Target has since joined in, cutting plastic from packaging in yogurt, light bulbs and socks. Wal-Mart Stores are also moving away from the oil-heavy packaging, pledging to cut plastic use by 5 percent by 2013.
To replace those nasty clamshells, Kellogg’s company, MeadWestvaco, has developed an alternative that lets manufacturers showcase and advertise their products without so much plastic. The company fuses a tamper-evident cardboard sheet with a clear laminate to help physical stores avoid shoplifting while saving money on packaging.
The company says their version of the packaging uses 60 percent less plastic and is 20-30 percent cheaper than clamshells.
Packaging innovations are helping manufacturers save on cost, but shoppers may also be celebrating the beginning of razor blade and kitchen knife-free gift-giving.