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Clamshell Packaging - Bad for the Environment AND Frustrating

clamshell packagingWho else hates that plastic packaging (called blister packs or clamshell or oyster packaging) that things like electronics come in?  I think they're so annoying, dangerous, unnecessary, and bad for the environment.   There's even a name for the anger associated with opening these packages:  wrap rage!  Who hasn't had a bout of wrap rage when trying to open up the packaging for something they were initially excited about?

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 6000 people a year end up in the ER after trying to open these packages.  What good comes out of this packaging material?  People injure themselves trying to open these things and it creates a tremendous amount of waste.  The clamshell packages are usually made of PVC and a lot of times clamshell packaging isn't even recyclable.   Manufacturers claim that it helps prevent shoplifting, makes shipping easier and cheaper, and makes it so that customers can see the product.  But there must be some alternatives.

One company is offering alternatives to the typical clamshell packaging:  Amazon.  They call it "Frustration-Free Packaging."  This packaging is recyclable, is shipped without extra packing materials, and some of their products can be shipped right from the box it comes in.  It really cuts down a lot on waste.  Not all of their products can be shipped this way, unfortunately, but some products from Mattel, Fisher-Price, and Microsoft can be.  It's a start, at least!

Sony, Microsoft, and Best Buy
are other companies making efforts to get rid of clamshell packaging.  There is also the Sustainable Packaging Coalition working to make product packaging more sustainable.

I hope to see more companies follow their lead and phase out clamshell packaging entirely.  Until then, when you get something new, try opening the clamshell packaging with a can opener, as demonstrated on this YouTube video

- this post was originally published on October 30th, 2009-