Have you ever struggled with opening an item’s packaging? We all have, being it the rigid transparent plastic cases of an electronic item or a vacuum-packed food you are trying to get to. More than 60.000 people per year in the UK go to the hospital due to packaging-induced injuries.
3 scientists came up with different ways of making packaging easier to open while being less wasteful and greener to the environment.
- Ergonomic studies: scientifically find out the reasons why the packaging is hard to open. By understanding the human coordination and dexterity, packaging can be developed where the discovered troubles are avoided. With an aging population, packaging that is easier to open might have a greater demand.
- Self-opening packaging thanks to a micro-chip. Equipped with a chip and a battery, the intelligent packaging would open by itself, controlled remotely by an app on your phone. In the future those chips could be enhanced and refined, enabling them to tell you whether the packaged item is still in good condition and edible, like the Smart Lid for Milk. The scientists argue that having so much waste today (mainly formed from packaging), results from the packaging’s low value; if you increased the value of the packaging, it would be less likely to be thrown away and would be more likely kept and/or recycled.
- Environmentally friendly packaging material made out of mushrooms instead of resource- and energy-consuming plastic. We would use chemical free transformation of the mushrooms and that would result in packaging made out of biodegradable material. Such an approach would greatly improve the ocean pollution we are currently facing. Research has found out that molded fungus could be a strong, light-weighted and cheaper packaging solution.
Listen to the entire podcast on BBC Radio 4 with more explanations on each project, as well as the challenges faced.