The history of this package offers lessons for all packagers. That the clamshell is the object of praise and scorn reflects opportunities fulfilled and missed. In a relatively short time span, it has become commonplace in a variety of industries, among them electronics, toys, hardware, and health & beauty. Whether on a shelf, on a counter, or hung from a rod, its tough, clear plastic affords viewing of its contents, while protecting same from easy pilferage–features prized by consumer packaged goods companies and by retailers. A third stakeholder, the consumer, has been less enamored of the package, due almost entirely to problems with opening it.
Design firms and package suppliers have devised alternatives to the clamshell. Such is to be expected and is the nature of competition. Beyond that, some packagers, in addition to a major Internet retailer, have projects to reduce or eliminate their usage of clamshells. Those efforts, in addition to those expended by the clamshell supplier industry to improve its product, would benefit from a retrospective, because a function of packaging—in addition to protection and communication—is convenience. The fact that one of the clamshell’s primary elements—opening—was given short shrift deserves analysis.
Firstly, I must say that it’s great news that we’ve finally got a strategy being developed for packaging in a low carbon economy – it’s a huge step forward.
The report suggests a move away “from weight-based to carbon-based (packaging waste) targets” taking in to account “whole life cycle impacts.” which is a bold move – but how will this be implemented and managed in a consistent manner?
There is mention of “Treating packaging waste as a valuable resource”. Yes, we should encourage:
“• more recycling by householders; with schemes that collect all the main packaging materials” (but let’s get UK wide consistency and make it easier for consumers to differentiate & sort!). As Dick Searle points out (see Packaging News below), “recyclability is not the problem – 85% of packaging is recyclable, while just 35% of packaging is actually recycled.”
“• local authorities and businesses treating waste packaging as a resource, leading to more recycling by businesses” (Yes, most businesses will respond to cash incentives for recycling schemes but we should not lose sight of other ways of processing waste and think of latent energy recovery/capture. Efforts should be given to an all encompassing sustainability policy/programme – i don’t see any mention of that anywhere! – or have I missed something?)
As a footnote, I’d like to say that anything that enables consumers to appreciate the benefits of packaging and stop seeing it only as ‘waste’, is a good thing. I also think that we are in dire need of a government strategy on ‘Food Waste’ = otherwise we are missing a ‘big trick’ here. Around 30% of all food purchased is thrown away. If it wasn’t packaged (to extend its shelf life) that figure would probably be over 50%.
So we will continue to work on innovation for our sustainability projects, reducing and minimising wherever we can, as consumers demand, but we must not lose sight of the need for choice and convenience.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments below….
Social media is seen as banal, boring and irrelevant by a number of people, many of them old and ’set in their ways’. But it is changing the way people interact, gain information & purchase products. The latter is being driven by the retail sector, looking for innovative new marketing techniques and ways to differentiate their products on shelf. The Healthcare and Pharmaceutical industries, with their ‘pedestrian’ approach and generally longer leadtimes lag behind as usual. Although not packaging related, I find the following article thought-provoking and an insight into opportunities for the healthcare sector (generaly) to embrace new technologies and methods of interaction with it’s ‘customers’ and provide some benefits, added value and an improved user experience which should alsopave the way for huge opportunities in Pharmaceutical packaging and medical devices – particularyly in the areas of non-compliance (patients forgetting to take their medications). Here’s hoping…..and I hope you find it as thought-provoking!
Special thanks go out to Dan Dunlop – ‘Healthcare Marketer’ who first brought my attention to this article via LinkedIn (see link at end of this article).
Healthcare Atwitter Over Social Networking By Elizabeth S. Roop May 18, 2009 Radiology Today Vol. 10 No. 10 P. 12
Some forward-looking healthcare organizations are working to include sites such as Facebook and Twitter into their marketing plans.
From YouTube and Facebook to Twitter, the University of Maryland Medical System has established a presence within the social networking world that helps the nine-hospital system connect to hundreds of potential new patients each day.
As many as 700 people per day watch the system’s 117 YouTube videos, which range from a four-minute promotional spot to interviews with medical experts, patient success stories, surgical Webcasts, and overviews of programs and services. Several of those videos also populate the system’s Facebook page, along with news, audio podcasts, commentary, and patient questions posted on the wall to which the system responds as appropriate.
The social networking system Twitter helps the medical system promote its latest educational offerings and other noteworthy activities in short messages called Tweets to its more than 540 followers and refer them to one of the other social networking sites for more detailed information.