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Aboxalypse Now

Overpackaging, killer clamshells, and other common triggers of wrap rage.

Nearly 10% of a typical product's price is for packaging: "Consumer Choices Can Reduce Packaging Waste," University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report, September 2002

The global packaging market is worth $429 billion: "Sustainable Packaging: Environmentally Responsible Packaging for Consumer and Industrial Markets: Market Analysis and Forecasts," Pike Research, 2009

Nearly 1/3 of American waste is packaging: "Municipal Solid Waste in the United States," Environmental Protection Agency, 2007

Americans threw away 78.5 million tons of packaging: "Municipal Solid Waste in the United States," Environmental Protection Agency, 2007

Anthony Weiner bill would have reduced packaging by 30% over next decade: Packaging Reduction Act of 2008

Americans say they seek alternatives to excessively packaged goods: "Sustainable Packaging Report," Corporate Sustainability International, August 18, 2009

What's the deal with Sam's Club square milk jugs: "Sam's Club Mooves to New Milk Container," Wal-Mart, June 30, 2008

Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans produce more than 1 million tons of additional garbage per week: "Commonly Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention," Stanford Recycling Center; email from Robert Lilenfield, Use Less Stuff Report, September 2, 2009

If every family reused wrapping from 3 gifts: "Commonly Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention," Stanford Recycling Center; email from Robert Lilenfield, Use Less Stuff Report, September 9, 2009

(Note: Stanford Recycling Center says 45,000 football fields. Lilenfield, who originally came up with the figure 10 years ago, said it would now be about 50,000 football fields based on population trends.)

Holiday waste prompts British mall to hire mathematician to devise formula: "The Science of Packaging," University of Leicester press release, December 2007

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos quote, as company started selling products in "Frustration-Free Packaging": "Packages You Won't Need a Saw to Open," New York Times, November 14, 2008; interview with Patty Smith, Amazon spokeswoman, August 19, 2009

A year later, Amazon offers the service for fewer than 100 products: Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging official website

To fight shoplifting, clamshell packages are designed so that "human hands have great difficulty separating the backing and cover": "2007 National Retail Security Final Report," University of Florida Security Research Project (password protected); "Printed-thermoplastic tamper-resistant package," United States Patent 6571953

It took Consumer Reports testers more than 3 minutes to cut open the Oral-B Sonic Complete Toothbrush Kit: "The 2007 Oyster Awards," Consumer Reports, March 2007

After 99% of her readers said that packages were getting harder to open, the editor of a British magazine for seniors complained: "Wrap rage hitting the over-50s," BBC News, February 4, 2004

Last year, clamshell-type packages sent more than 5,700 Americans to the ER: National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) Query Builder, US Consumer Product Safety Commission

In May 2008, Sony announced "Death to the Clamshell" by releasing video: "Sony Declares Death to the Clamshell," Sony Insider, December 19, 2008; interview with David Migdal, Sony VP of Communications, August 25, 2009

Sony's Memory Stick Duo comes in a plastic container 50 times larger than product: Interview with Amado Zavala, Sony spokesperson, September 10, 2009

Apple shipped its latest operating system in a box nearly 16 times larger than DVD case within: "Snow Leopard Fails Packaging Test," TriplePundit, September 8, 2009; email from Nick Aster, Triplepundit, September 9, 2009

Military MREs and their packaging: "Nanotechnology Applied to Ration Packaging," SSC-Natick press release, June 4, 2004; "Recycling Emphasized During Women's History Month Program," SSC-Natick Press Release, April 10, 2009

Pentagon converting packaging into fuel: "Mobile Integrated Sustainable Energy Recovery," Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Pentagon redesigned MRE bags: "Operational Rations of the Department of Defense," Department of Defense, April 2009

Draw the line at wine in a pouch: "Red or White, but Not as Green as It Could Be," The Wine Intelligence Briefing, June 2008

McDonald's branding is successful for kid consumers: "Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences," Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, August 2007

Kids think plastic milk bottles are cooler than cartons: "New Look of School Milk: Cold, Plastic and Easy to Open!" School Nutrition Professionals

Kids love to play with packaging: Strong National Museum of Play Inductees

Frito-Lay packaging products: Frito-Lay Snack Chat

When inventor of Pringles potato chip canister died, some of his ashes were interred in one of his creations: "Ashes of man who designed Pringles packaging buried in crisp can," Guardian UK, June 2, 2008; Obituary for Fredric J. Baur, Cincinnati Enquirer, June 1, 2008; "Pringles Can Designer Buried in His Work," MSNBC, June 3, 2008

Coroner's office in Washington said it planned to buy shrink-wrap machine: "Emergency Officials Want to Shrink Wrap Bodies," The Associated Press, February 19, 2005

Americans annually buy enough plastic wrap to cover Texas: "Waste Facts and Figures," Clean Air Council; email from Joseph Minott, Clean Air Council, September 8, 2009; Recycling in America: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary World Issues), Debra L. Strong, Debi Kimball, 1997

The USDA developed edible food wrap: "Edible Packaging: Fruit and vegetable wraps preserve foods, add nutrition," Engineering & Technology for a Sustainable World, November 2001

ScentSational's in-store awareness: SentSational Technologies

Presliced and wrapped fruits and vegetables cost up to 45% more: "Consumer Choices Can Reduce Packaging Waste," University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences report, September 2002

A British supermarket sold shrink-wrapped coconuts: "One family, one month, 50kg of packaging. Why?" UK Guardian, January 29, 2006; email from Jessica Wilkinson, Morrisons press officer, September 2, 2009

Shave Gel, or "miniature lava lamp": NXT Shave Gel; "A Package That Lights Up the Shelf," New York Times, March 4, 2009

Bling H2O fancy water bottles: Bling H2O

Harry Reid's Fiji Signature Sleeve: Mother Jones reporter Tim Dickinson's own two eyes

Curvy bottles help you lose weight: "A Slimming Profile: Should the Shape of Your Package Tip off the Purpose of the Product?" Package Design

Online recipe suggests making cheese puffs from packing peanuts: "Packing Foam," Lard.net; interview with Denise Peck, StarchTech spokeswoman, September 9, 2009

Sales of snack packs grew 28%: "In Small Packages, Fewer Calories and More Profit," New York Times, July 7, 2007; "Consumers Pay Hefty Premium for Air, Packaging in 100-Calorie Packs," Center for Science in the Public Interest, August 14, 2007

Tropicana downsized its juice jug: "The lowdown on downsized products," Consumer Reports, October 2008; "Tropicana: Please Don't Squeeze the Customer," mouseprint.org, June 16, 2008; "US Manufacturers Beat Inflation by Selling Less for Same Price," the Raw Story, June 26, 2008

Sales of Patagonia underwear jumped 30%: "Patagonia's Underwear Is Designed for Exposure," Fast Company TV, June 24, 2009; email from Jen Rapp, Patagonia spokeswoman, August 21, 2009

People are going insane with wrap rage: "The Real Truth About Overpackaging -- Version 3.4," Eye On Packaging blog at Packaging Digest, November 6, 2008

Packaging and products secretly getting smaller: "The Lowdown on Downsized Products," ConsumerReports.org, October 2008

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