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How to Open Clamshell Packaging

Why Is It So Hard to Open Plastic Packages?

Last night I was faced with the task of putting new ink cartridges in my boyfriend's printer and was reminded of how tricky it is to open hard clamshell packaging. It's honestly a battle I confront multiple times a week, so I decided it was time to do a little research. Why do manufactures make it so complicated? It's mostly to detour shoplifters — the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention estimates losses from pilferage at more than $25 million per day so keeping small goods in plastic until they are purchased is paramount. Consumer Reports says:

  • Federal safety laws require seals that will show evidence of tampering, and child-safety caps on most over-the-counter remedies, though that often makes them adultproof.
  • Products from abroad must be packed securely enough to withstand a long, bouncy voyage aboard a cargo ship.
  • With toys, it’s no longer enough to picture what’s inside. Children and parents like to interact with the toy or at least see all the pieces before buying.

All fair points, but that doesn't make getting items open any easier. So how should you get your hard to budge sealed cases open? For my tips,

I usually end up using a combination of scissors, a screwdriver and or a knife. It's neither scientific or fail proof, but eventually, I get the package open. Looking for an easier route? Check the package carefully before you start struggling. Many companies have started putting tiny perforations and tabs on their clamshell packages. When you do cut, cut the package along the seam or outer edge, don't demolish the plastic in case you want to return it later.

Join The Conversation
vanitypot vanitypot 9 years
Even if how much I HATE this kind of packaging, I think it's still functional to prevent shoplifting cases. :) I just try to avoid products with this kind of packaging though, but if the product's a MUST-have, uh, it's worth the patience and pain. >_< haha
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I've hurt myself trying to get these open!
mrc011 mrc011 9 years
hand held can opener works really well!
gonedelirious gonedelirious 9 years
yea! thanks so much beansandsyke. i have been looking for this thing for almost 2 years now. i have never seen this infomercial, but when I went home, my parents would not stop talking about this thing. i don't think they have one yet. i'll let ya know how it works!
beansandsyke beansandsyke 9 years
hhah theres this thing called the package shark or something that is made for those its kind of amazing but i havnt gotten one yet
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i use an exacto blade, and that seems to work well...but sometimes i cut myself with the packaging
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
Kiddy, that's funny!
kiddylnd kiddylnd 9 years
I just saw a product at Target that said it's designed to open up these types of packages. The best part is that they were packaged IN one! :rotfl: I have no idea what you are supposed to use to open that one up! :wink:
AKirstin AKirstin 9 years
Those things should be freeking illegal, they're AWFUL.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I hate this packaging too. I love to tear into my loot after returning home from a Shopurday out, and these slow me down! I use kitchen scissors to cut across them. But really, did it require research to figure out why companies use hard-to-get-into packaging?
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
I always think they make these packages so hard to open so that you can't return the item. Can you still return after you ripped the package to shreds?
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
Umm... Scissors do the job just fine.
Jessie-M Jessie-M 9 years
z0rkzer0- exactly my thought! I see the commercial for these special clamshell opener scissor thingies from Home Depot and it still amazes me how quickly they have the clamshell packages open without hurting themselves! I think they are only 10 or 15 bucks...they would defintiely be awesome to have. Right now I usually struggle with scissors for a while and end up cutting my hands on the sharp plastic edges :(
snapsh0t snapsh0t 9 years
Ugh.. I always end up with cut-up hands after opening those types of packages.
SkinnyMarie SkinnyMarie 9 years
I've heard of people using a hand held can opener to do the trick. Should probably ask a thief, because back in the day working at officemax we would find soo many opened clamshells with no product. They are quick with it.
wiciltd wiciltd 9 years
I don't know how many times i've injured myself trying to open those blasted things.. I start getting rammy with the exacto knife.. So I am forbidden now from using exacto knives to open things :( <-- I think everyone needs one of these..
glam-sugar glam-sugar 9 years
It always takes forever to hack those things open. :irk: I realize the shoplifting prevention is necessary but it still is annoying.
z0rkzer0 z0rkzer0 9 years
I don't see it on their site, but the Home Depot stores near me have a special pair of side-cut snips designed specifically for opening these kinds of packages. They work great!
megnmac megnmac 9 years
I HATE this packaging. I really hope more start using that perforation idea, or something that makes it easier to get into. I get annoyed when the instructions are up inside the cardboard, since I typically cut across the top off the plastic - it is hard to cut super close to the hard, crimped edges - and then the instructions are jacked. Oh, and I will return whether the plastic is shredded or not!
DearMissPriss DearMissPriss 9 years
Destroying the package won't stop me from returning something! One time I returned a box of open Atkins bars and I just put the one I bit into in a baggie. =p
freegracefrom freegracefrom 9 years
It's dangerous to get these things open sometimes though! I cut myself while trying to open the package for my PDA.
ALSW ALSW 9 years
I've always wondered why these are such a pain! I end up getting a pair of good, sharp scissors and hacking at it.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
It's always such a pain...
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i always have to fight with packages...don't know if it makes it any more enjoyable once i open them though. some things are worth a struggle - but in reality - most things aren't.
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