Good News! “Devilish Packaging, Tamed”

I read some good news in today’s New York Times. No, it doesn’t have to do with things that really matter, like world peace. But what I read did shine a ray of hope into my morning. What news am I talking about? Well, according to a column by Stephanie Clifford, we may be experiencing the last days of clamshell packaging.

Clamshell packaging protecting an electronic device from ever being used. Photo from

You know what I mean. Clamshell packaging consists of hard, clear plastic “shells” that protect and display the things we buy, things like small electronic devices, tools, toys, and so forth. The problem is that clamshell packaging is virtually impenetrable. Just because you bought that nifty curling iron and brought it home, there is no guarantee that you’ll ever be able to use it. You can see it. But actually getting it out of the plastic package requires special skills and special tools, things like lasers, carbon-tipped saw blades, and Darth Vader’s lightsaber.

So here’s the good news, according to the Times:

[The] maddening — and nearly impenetrable — plastic packaging known as clamshells could become a welcome casualty of the difficult economy. High oil prices have manufacturers and big retailers reconsidering the use of so much plastic, and some are aggressively looking for cheaper substitutes. . . .

At Home Depot, Husky tools are going from clamshell to paperboard packaging, and EcoSmart LED bulbs are about to be sold in a corrugated box, rather than a larger plastic case.

“Most of our manufacturers have been working on this,” said Craig Menear, the head of merchandising at Home Depot. “We’ve certainly been encouraging them.” . . . .

Steven Hoskins, manager of packaging engineering for the Apex Tool Group, the parent company of Wiss, said that getting rid of the plastic packaging saved money, allowed for more products per shipment and cut down on waste.

And, Mr. Hoskins said, “the package is very attractive to the consumer.”

And relatively pain-free.

So, the day may come when I can put away my tinsnips, the tool I actually use to upon clamshell packages. (They work because they’re made for cutting metal.) It’s rather ironic to think that perhaps something good has come from the steep increase in oil prices.

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