Canadian Packaging

Picking Up The Pieces


January 13, 2010
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor

My New Year’s resolution was to give up creating lists—not grocery lists that I forget to write, but rather bottom or top 10-type lists, as I find them childish. Let me tell you why:

  1. it’s an opinion and may not be correct; 
  2. it only offers one side of the argument;
  3. there’s no chance of a rebuttal;
  4. … I’m doing a list aren’t I?

Since that resolution is dashed—and I never did lists anyway—let me tell you about some packaging I recently bought.

This past Christmas after my dog Buster wagged my camera off the couch (my fault for leaving it there), I sent my wife out to buy a replacement (camera, not dog, although…). She came back with a new 42-inch HD LCD TV. Lots of capital letters but no camera. Bad wife. Anyhow, the television came in a beautiful, solid corrugated carton, minimal amounts of Styrofoam edging to protect the corners, and was easy to open. I was able to open it and remove all the components in less than two minutes—granted giddy excitement may have played a part in the speed.

For my son Hudson, along with everyone buying him too many large Transformers (even being adept, it still takes me 20 minutes to transform it from a robot in disguise to a pogo stick), I purchased a battery-operated extendable robot arm that grabs things. The packaging was open in front presumably so that kids and their snotty hands could touch it at the store (I just realized that now – ick), but the arm was secured to the package by six plastic covered wires, excessive amounts of tape and no visible way to actually open the package where the instructions were without tearing it to shreds… which I did. I spent over 10 minutes untwisting the wires (dog ate them) and five more minutes looking for the instructions that when found didn’t tell me how to replace batteries that might have been used up by snotty kids at the store. Why a $10 toy should be more difficult to open up than a television with a couple more zeroes attached to it is beyond me.

Though it might appear I’m slagging the packagers of children’s toys—quite the contrary. I appreciate that it is difficult to open up. Too often we forget that packaging is there for a product’s protection from theft, as I’ve heard that some people try to remove products from its packaging to avoid setting off the security sensors at the door.

Now, when packaging opens up too easily—like with a recent purchase of 18-kilograms of cat litter contained within a plastic bag held in a corrugated carton with handholds (like on a 2-4 of beer—now everyone gets my description), what seemed like a boon to the consumer fails miserably thanks to the corrugated being too weak to handle the weight of the product being hefted. Yup… the handholds tore—virtually at the same time—dumping the cat litter (which broke through the plastic bag) onto my driveway.