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Articles from 2020 In August


Healthcare Packaging

7 Things to Consider When Using a Medical Device Contract Packager

Image courtesy of Nelson Laboratories LLC Nelson Laboratories LLC
Packages being prepared for whole package integrity testing.

While some medical device manufacturers (MDMs) have in-house packaging lines and capabilities, many companies use a contract packager for their medical devices. Small-batch sealers are relatively inexpensive, but large-volume production requires expensive packaging equipment that uses a lot of valuable floor space in a production facility. As a result, many companies opt to use a contract packager rather than make that large investment in equipment and space. If your company falls into this category, here are some important things to consider when using a contract packager.

 

 

 

Medtech Knowledge

Packaging is used everywhere for products ranging from food to consumer goods to medical devices and pharmaceuticals. The medical device and pharma industries operate under a unique set of rules and restrictions designed to ensure these products are safe and effective and, where required, sterile to the point of use. A contract packager that normally packages food items or consumer goods may not be aware of all the regulations and requirements for medical and pharma packaging. With the current COVID-19 crisis, many new players are entering the market trying to provide much needed medical supplies and personal protective equipment for the first time. Most of these companies are well meaning and are switching gears to help where needed, but they may not have the background or knowledge necessary to comply with the regulations.

 

Quality System in Place

The contract packager is a critical member in your supply chain. As such, you should follow your internal quality system to qualify them as a vendor.  This would normally include routine audits of the services and facility (either via a paper audit or an in-person visit). Ensure the contract packager you select has the necessary expertise to follow all medical device packaging requirements. Verify through the audit that they are following all regulations. Do they have a quality system in place? Do they have a training program in place? Are their facility and equipment validations in place? Is there evidence that their processes are under control? Do they have calibration and maintenance schedules in place (and are they following them)? Do they have individuals who have the necessary education and experience to perform the required functions? 

 

Package and Process Validations

While you will rely on the contract packager’s expertise and services, you will ultimately be responsible for the packaging of your medical device. This includes two key components: the packaging process validation and the packaging validation. When FDA audits your company, they will expect you to be able to produce all the necessary documentation that both your packaging and your packaging process has been properly and thoroughly validated. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the packaging process validation. Let’s look at what this means.

Per ISO 11607-2, you must validate the packaging process. This includes at a minimum an Installation Qualification (IQ), an Operational Qualification (OQ), and a Performance Qualification (PQ) for the equipment used. You also need a process specification for the forming, assembly, and sealing of the packaging. The packaging equipment should be validated by whomever owns and uses the equipment. The contract packager should have an IQ/OQ on file for the sealer, documenting the initial installation. They should also perform a product-specific PQ with your device to show the package with your final product can be sealed to those process specifications previously set.

Where do the process specifications come from? The seal strength is dependent on the materials used in the packaging and the settings on the sealing equipment. The contract packager should be familiar with the materials in the packaging and the sealing equipment. They should know what the expected strength range could be. However, they would not know what your required minimum seal strength value needs to be. That will be dependent on what your device is and what minimum value is required to keep your package sealed with your product inside. If the contract packager has a generic, established minimum seal strength value, you are still responsible to justify to a regulatory body why this value is appropriate for your device. Ask the contract packager for copies of the IQ/OQ/PQ or a summary for your records so you have them readily available for an auditor.

In addition, the protective packaging is a critical component of the packaging system. Changing or improperly assembling the protective packaging can negatively affect the sterility of the finished device. The contract packager needs to have clear and concise instructions for assembling the packaging system. The assembly process should be verified.

 

Calibration Schedules

The contract packager is responsible for calibrating and maintaining the packaging equipment. For instance, they should have established procedures and policies in place to ensure the sealer is continually operating within the validated process parameters. This would include maintenance, calibration schedules and procedures, and routine quality tests of seals to ensure seal-strength values are in the range set by the validation. You should request supporting documentation for these activities for your files.

 

Training

The contract packager is responsible for the ongoing training of their employees. This would include operating the packaging equipment and inspecting the finished packages. Most companies perform some type of quality control inspection before boxing. This process should be documented and followed. Individuals performing inspections should have evidence of proper training and demonstrated proficiency in performing the inspections according to the written inspection procedure.

 

Change Control

Does the contract packager have change control procedures in place? Changes in equipment, processes, or supplies need to be evaluated for potential impact to the packaging system. Some changes will require that additional validation activities be performed. Are you notified of changes and are the changes evaluated for impact by the contract packager? You will need documentation of changes made and their impact, either provided by the contract packager or written by your company.

 

Appropriate Design Support

Lastly, let’s touch upon design. Ensure any package recommended by the contract packager meets the specific needs of your device. Packaging needs to be of an appropriate size for the product, sufficiently durable, protective to withstand the rigors of transportation and distribution, and be designed for sterilization compatibility. Even though the contract packager is recommending a package, you are responsible for justifying the selection of the packaging (why the size is appropriate, why the materials were chosen, why the protective packaging was selected, etc.).

 

Moving Forward with a Contract Packager

The contract packager is a valuable partner. Many companies rely on their expertise and services to package medical devices and pharmaceuticals, but the ultimate responsibility for what they do resides with the medical device manufacturer. The same level of care and concern that is spent on device production needs to carry over into the packaging process. Carefully perform your due diligence with your contract packager to ensure this critical step in your device production meets all your quality expectations.

Food Safety

Graphene Sensors Printed for Monitoring Food Safety, Freshness

Jonathan Claussen foodsensors.jpg
Researchers are using aerosol-jet-printing technology to create graphene biosensors that can detect histamine, an allergen and indicator of spoiled fish and meat.

Food safety and freshness is a serious business, as shipping and distributing spoiled food—especially animal products—can result in serious health problems.

 

Researchers have now found a way to help prevent such issues in terms of the sale and distribution of fish and meat with a new carbon-based sensor that can test for an indicator that the product has spoiled.

A team from Iowa State University printed the sensors using high-resolution aerosol jet printers on a flexible polymer film. The devices can detect histamine, which is a common allergen that indicates whether fish or meat has spoiled, down to 3.41 parts per million.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set histamine guidelines of 50 parts per million in fish, which means the sensor is well above the sensitivity range for detecting products that have spoiled.

The sensor also can be used to determine the freshness of other types of food to avoid the spread of food-borne illnesses, said Carmen Gomes, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa State.

“This histamine sensor is not only for fish,” she said in a press statement. “Bacteria in food produce histamine. So it can be a good indicator of the shelf life of food.”

 

Material Matters

Researchers developed the sensors using graphene electrodes that they aerosol jet-printed on a flexible polymer. Graphene is a versatile material known for its strength, electrical conductivity, flexibility, and biocompatibility, and it is used in numerous electronic and printing applications.

To enable the sensors to detect histamine, the team chemically bound histamine antibodies—which specifically bind histamine molecules—to the graphene. The histamine blocks electron transfer and increases electrical resistance, a change that can be measured and recorded by the sensor to provide readings for levels in food.

The team believes it can extend the functionality of the sensor to detect other molecules not just for food safety but also potentially for health monitoring and other uses, researchers wrote in a paper on their work published in the journal 2D Materials.

“Beyond the histamine case study presented here, the (aerosol jet printing) and functionalization process can likely be generalized to a diverse range of sensing applications including environmental toxin detection, foodborne pathogen detection, wearable health monitoring, and health diagnostics,” researchers wrote.

 

Versatility of Use

For example, by switching the antibodies bonded to the printed sensors, they also could be used to detect salmonella bacteria, or cancers, or animal diseases such as avian influenza. The latter is especially important to the food industry because animals can transfer disease to humans through tainted meat, as the current global health crisis has demonstrated.

In fact, Gomes’ co-collaborator on the research, Jonathan Claussen, an Iowa State associate professor of mechanical engineering, worked with other scientists to modify the aerosol-jet-printed sensors to detect cytokines, which are markers of inflammation.

This work, reported in a recent paper published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, shows how sensors can monitor immune-system function in cattle and detect deadly and contagious paratuberculosis at early stages.

To commercialize the rapid pathogen detection biosensors, Gomes and Claussen have launched a company called NanoSpy.

“Any food sensor has to be really cheap,” Gomes said. “You have to test a lot of food samples and you can’t add a lot of costs.”

Researchers are currently in the process of licensing the new histamine and cytokine sensor technology through NanoSpy.

 

Packaging Design

7 Clever Food Packages From Around the World

Judging by the amount of thought and creativity shown by the winning entries in the annual World Packaging Organisation (WPO) WorldStar Student Awards, the future of packaging is in highly capable hands.

But first things first: WPO recently announced it was accepting entries in the 2020 student awards program for any students enrolled in a collegiate-level design program or packaging engineering program (undergraduate or graduate) anywhere in the world. The entry must have already won an award at a national or multinational competition organized or recognized by that area’s WPO member National Packaging Body. Entries for the 2020 competition close on November 1, 2020. For more information about the organization or the awards program, visit www.worldpackaging.org

According to Bill Marshall, organizer of Student WorldStars, the ceremony for the 2019 winners announced in January 2020 was due to take place in May in Dusseldorf, Germany, during Interpak. “With the international lockdowns, the broad publication of these has been sparse and of course the on-line awards ceremony for last year’s competition is only being held this month,” he tells Packaging Digest.

The following slideshow highlights seven food packaging designs that were honored, which are edited for clarity. The gallery begins with two Save Food winners that are designed to reduce food waste.

Recycling

A Beverage First: Wellness Shots Bottled in Biodegradable PET

So Good So You So Good So You Empty Bottles Group ftr

So Good So You’s products are unusual in that they’re refrigerated functional beverages taken in shot doses. In fact, they’re billed as the category leader in premium refrigerated wellness shots.

The company also has a history of healthy respect for the environment.

Says Rita Katona, co-founder and board chair, “we’ve always produced our shots in a Zero Waste facility powered by 100% renewable energy with more than 94% of our facility waste being diverted away from landfills in order to support our initiative of creating products that are better for the world.”

That eco-minded approach carries through to the packaging: the products have been packaged in 50mL/1.7oz PET plastic bottles made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic that’s recyclable.

So Good So YouBtrBtl group filled

Now the Minneapolis company’s packaging breaks new ground in staking a claim with a first in beverage packaging: the sustainable PET bottles are biodegradable and recyclable.

Named “BtrBtl” (Better Bottle), the PET bottles feature a proprietary additive that “allows it to biodegrade in landfills at an accelerated rate, breaking down in years versus centuries, without leaving microplastic fragments behind.”

ASTM tests back biodegradable claims.

The company says that BtrBtl is fully recyclable, but if placed in the trash or diverted from the recycling stream, will biodegrade more than 30% after the first year in active commercial landfill conditions. The company reports that the tests are based on ASTM D5526-94 testing of accelerated biodegradation versus 2% biodegradation of untreated PET.

So Good So YouSo Good So You bottle degrading SQ

According to the company, BtrBtl ultimately turns into water, soil and gas that can be collected and converted into clean energy at landfill facilities.

Katona says it’s one solution to a “fractured recycling system,” citing the fact that more than 90% of plastic waste ends up in landfills regardless of proper recycling, according to National Geographic.

Notably, the brand's inventive two-fold solution requires no change in consumer behavior.

Packaging Digest asked Katona about the two years’ research and development to make this all happen.

“No other beverage brand big or small is using this technology so there was no blueprint for how to implement it,” she responds. “This technology is new to the beverage industry space so it required a lot of planning and coordination with the supplier of the polymer, our bottle manufacturer, new molds, testing that the new bottles would work with our high-pressure processing (HPP) kill-step. Next was involving our internal operations and marketing teams, a team of legal counsel to ensure our messaging is compliant — it was a lengthy process.”

On-bottle and website information, education.

Biodegradability is messaged on the label; additional information and a video can be found on this webpage at the company website. 

So Good So YouSo Good So You beauty square

“Our shot bottle is tiny, so messaging this important change was a challenge we were excited to solve,” she says. “Every new bottle states ‘BtrBtl, new eco-friendly bottle that’s better.’ Below this is text that directs consumers to our website where they can get additional information. We wanted to find a way for consumers to understand all of the complex issues with the broken recycling system through a video we created that lives on our site for them to easily access. We want them to make better choices and to further explain how our own bottle is better than plastic.”

The plant-based functional beverages are made with only certified organic and non-GMO-verified ingredients. Each shot is packed with one billion CFUs of probiotics that naturally support the immune and digestive system. They are available in varieties including Immunity, Energy, Sleep, Detox, Digestion, Beauty, Longevity and Endurance. So Good So You is the #1 premium brand in the emerging functional shot category. They are available in 47 states in more than 4,000 stores nationwide, including Target, Publix, Sprouts and Safeway.

Packaging Design

Colorfully Unique Special Effects for Plastic Packaging

Penncolor Penncolor Bottles penneflex Group

Special effects work as well for packaging as they do in movies in drawing attention.

Penn Color’s new penneffex products for monolayer and multilayer rigid PET packaging deliver a high-end, eye-catching finish for plastic packaging and products. With nearly unlimited customization options, the line draws on the company's creativity, expertise in colors and special effects, and knowledge in manufacturing processes to inspire creative brand design ideas for bottles and other rigid containers in product categories such as home care, personal care, food and beverage, and more.

Variations including matte, brushed metal, frost, metallic, luster, and bubbles offers brands a powerful way to engage with the consumers’ senses and emotions. The products utilize creativity and advanced technologies to bring product packaging in line with brand’s messaging and values such as high-end quality, sustainability, transparency, and more.

“The core concept of penneffex is to create building blocks of unique and differentiated colors and special effects for product design teams to be used in bespoke formulations developed ‘live’ with customers in our technical center,” said Phil Riccardi, Industry Manager Packaging North America. “In a typical three-day blitz session, we utilize our extensive capabilities and a fast iteration process, to design and prototype 70 to 80 unique concepts, which are presented in their finished part form: with penneffex, creativity has no boundaries and our development process reduces time to market by months”

Simon Clarke, Industry Manager Packaging Europe & Asia, said, “for example, through our own prototyping capabilities and our close relationship with leading equipment manufacturers, we can use multilayer co-injection to explore hundreds more design combinations.”

Robotics

Safe, No-Contact Robot Easily Handles Order Fulfillment

This is a great illustration of seamless integration between Sealed Air’s order fulfillment system and Soft Robotics’ SuperPick, an autonomous soft robotic solution designed specifically for ecommerce and retail logistics. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and human hand-like soft grippers, the robot can pick, sort, and handle unstructured tasks without human contact. This includes surprising ease in handling oddly-shaped packages such as grocery, apparel, and consumer goods. You have to watch this video to “get it.”

 

Recycling

Plastic Can-Rings Make Bid to Enter Circular Economy

Image: Hi-Cone/Avangard Innovative RingRecycleMe logo

On Aug. 14, Hi-Cone, a global supplier of plastic can-rings, announced the launch of the RingRecycleMe program in partnership with recycling technology company Avangard Innovative. The two companies aim to create a “circular approach” to get can rings in a “recycled production loop and out of landfills and the environment.”

Avangard Innovative specializes in recycling #4 low-density polyethylene (LDPE) used in bags, film, and lighter plastics. It will supply post-consumer recycled resin (PCR) pellets from its NaturaPCR recycling facilities to Hi-Cone for the production of its redesigned RingCycles packaging, which reduces the use of virgin plastic by half.

The #4 LDPE can-rings can currently be recycled in the United States and Canada, where mixed plastics are collected, said Hi-Cone’s announcement. Hi-Cone rightly points out in its “2020 Annual Report – The State of Plastic Recycling” that U.S. consumers “do not understand or trust recycling.” The company recognizes that more needs to be done to support collection services and recycling infrastructure.

Where ring carriers are not collected today, Hi-Cone has created a free recycling program to ensure that consumers can recycle them and give them a second life. Consumers now can send back their ring carriers — instructions can be found on RingRecycleMe.com — or by dropping them off at participating retail locations later this year.

Hi-Cone/Avangard InnovativeRingRecycleMe logo

Shawn Welch, Vice President of Hi-Cone Worldwide, commented: “Our partnership with Avangard Innovative is important to Hi-Cone because we’re working together to collect and use ring carriers to make new ones over and over again, furthering our commitment to reducing the use of virgin plastic and transitioning all ring carriers into 50% or more post-consumer recycled product.”

Rick Perez, CEO of Avangard Innovative, said, “We are excited to be a part of the RingRecycleMe initiative in partnership with Hi-Cone, as we both share a commitment to keeping plastic and other recyclables out of landfills and the environment. Our participation leverages proprietary technology to measure, manage, and monetize retailers’ sustainability programs, maximizing the volume of ring carriers and other LDPE plastics reclaimed, recycled, and transformed into post-consumer resin. By using the PCR pellets to manufacture new ring carriers, Hi-Cone and Avangard Innovative will effectively create a circular economy solution.”

In-the-Field Packaging Stories: My First Plant Visit

Rick Lingle Generic tortilla chips image

I’m no road warrior, but over the course of 30-something years as a packaging editor I’ve been inside some 150–200 plants. These ranged from numerous consumer packaged goods facilities and packaging converting operations to one irradiation facility. That’s because fielding case studies in-person was the hallmark of three of the publications I’ve worked for: Prepared Foods, Packaging World, and Packaging Digest.

A few of those plant tours stick in my memory banks like a pressure-sensitive label.

Let’s start at the beginning…I recall my first plant visit ever to a Borden’s snack foods plant in Missouri, I believe in Liberty, MO.  Besides serving as my inaugural plant visit of many dozens, I remember it for four things:

  • The plant was expansive and at one time had 1,000 employees.
  • As the associate editor just learning the ropes on his first plant trip, I was accompanied by the unforgettable Jack Mans, who I worked with both at Prepared Foods and Packaging Digest. Jack worked fulltime for PD until he retired at age 78 around 2014. He remains one of several larger-than-life characters I’ve met in my career.
  • We wore ties because that’s how we dressed back then and for many years after.

The plant had a number of processing and packaging lines, most notably a tortilla production line that figures in this particular tale, which is the fourth thing I recall because it was where I experienced a memorable mishap.

A little more background first: A former Kraft engineer, Jack had a number of such visits under his belt by the time I came aboard, so he took the lead and did most of the talking — which came naturally to him — while I generally tagged along taking notes.

The tortilla production line involved an extruder that belched steam occasionally as it turned the ground corn and other ingredients (called “mash”) into wet chips. My memory gets a little sketchy before I get to the denouement, but I remember that those extruded chips went into a hot oil fryer and then through a lengthy belt oven to dry.

But I do recall very clearly what came next…as Jack and the plant manager walked on to the next stop, I stayed behind to watch the extruder do its thing and catch up on my note taking. I was close enough that it was warm, but not so close that there was any danger of the tie getting in the way.

Suddenly, the extruder let out a large steam-driven blast of hot mash that came and hit me…well, right below the belt. I was certainly shocked, shaken and, most thankfully, unharmed.

My next thought was to look around and see if anyone had noticed what happened.

Thankfully, no one did.

I regained my composure and quickly caught up with my two companions.

Lesson learned: Never get too close to active extruders!

New Products

New Labeler Anticipates Mega-Production of COVID-19 Vaccine

Photo supplied by WLS WLS-VR-72-Close-up-featured.jpg
This continuous-motion VR-72 labeler is named for its 72 Vertical Rollers, which help ensure precise label application.

Accurate labeling in any market is critical, and especially so for healthcare products. But high speed and reliable output must match the market need for future COVID-19 vaccines.

Enter the new VR-72 pressure-sensitive labeler from Weiler Labeling Systems (WLS), part of ProMach Pharma Solutions. The servo-driven system applies wraparound paper or film labels to cylindrical containers at speeds of 600+ per minute, making it one of the highest capacity vial labelers available, according to the company. Specs for the system cite speeds as high as 1,000 containers per minute.

Speed of machine delivery has also been considered. Philippe Maraval, WLS vice president of business development, says, “We’ve fast-tracked production of these machines to offer expedited deliveries. Plus, we provide global customer support from our headquarters in the U.S. and ProMach facilities in Europe.”

What does “expedited” mean? WLS can ship standard systems in 26 weeks, down from the typical 36.

According to the company, the breakthrough vertical roller track design references the container sidewall for consistent and precise label application. The continuous-motion machine uses a vacuum drum label dispenser — rather than the typical wrapping belt — to hold containers at three contact points during application to minimize label skew.

Compliance with the pharma critical 21 CFR Part 11 regulation is available as an option. It’s not a standard feature because the VR-72 is sold into other markets, too.

The VR-72 will be featured at the 2020 Pack Expo Connects virtual show (Nov. 9-13) on the WLS exhibitor page.

Photo supplied by WLSWLS-VR-72-Full-View-web.jpg

The in-line labeler is built on a modular platform, which helps make the no-tool changeovers quick and easy.

Packaging Design

The Perilous Pitfalls of Poor Packaging

Photo credit: motortion – stock.adobe.com Unhappy-senior-motortion-AdobeStock_269747520-featured.jpeg

This is how it all began. I was trying to open Flonase, a steroidal nasal spray used for allergies. It is cheaper at Costco and CVS in packages of two or three.

But the multipack is hard plastic. I couldn’t cut it with my kitchen scissors, so I got a serrated knife and was trying to saw it open when I cut my finger. Deeply.

That’s when it came to me. Why am I and so many other citizens putting up with grocery items and packages across all retail lines that need super-human strength or a sharp object to open? If my Mister Twister gripper doesn’t work, and running a jar lid under hot water doesn’t loosen the top, and using the rubber band method fails, I use a beer opener to pop the seal. How many times have I pierced a finger? Too many.

A line from the 2012 movie Network came to mind: “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!”

Then and there, I decided to speak with other seniors and learn all I could about packaging and injuries from poorly designed containers.

But first, I was a little more self-serving. I emailed my primary care physician, explaining my dilemma, and asked for a different delivery of the active ingredient in Flonase. Not only was that package hard to open but did not fully deliver all of the contents, wasting my money. She came through and prescribed generic Nasonex! I just have to open a box to get to a sprayer, which works until the contents are mostly gone.

Photo by Hannah BoultonFlonase-after-web.jpg

Hannah's doctor prescribed her a generic version that comes in a carton that is much easier to open than the plastic blister.

After discussions with people of all ages, and the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), I decided to launch a small business, named Openez, which is designed to facilitate discussion between seniors, retailers, designers, and manufacturers.

 

Injuries and wrap rage are real.

Here is what my research uncovered. The main role of packaging is to protect a product in transit and storage. It should protect flavor, freshness, and disintegration. In the past several decades, the need for child proofing, tamper proofing, and theft prevention have become apparent, but we’ve gone overkill with the solution, especially with items too large to steal. A garden hose water timer in hard clamshell packaging? I shall not buy it.

For a while during the past decade, packaging for seniors was a hot topic. It was viewed as “the next untapped market.” A few improvements were made.

But then the focus centered on sustainability. Having lived in France and Germany for brief periods, and seen their approach, I believe we can have both senior friendly and sustainable packaging. We should not have to use our teeth, knives, beer openers, screw drivers, garden clippers, or any sharp objects to access a product.

Our Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and hospitals do not keep records of emergency room visits due to injuries from sharp packaging itself, an object used to pry one open, or access-related sprains. The UK does, though. And in 2009, more than 67,000 emergency room visits resulted from packaging injuries — primarily deep cuts and sprains. That is 67 thousand wounds and sprains and skin tears for a country with about one third the population of the US.

Wrap rage is the term coined to describe “the frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging.” I have experienced this. Have you?

This rage affects people of all ages but it is a real public health problem for seniors with decreased vision, arthritis, and skin that’s prone to tearing and slow to heal. We become so frustrated and furious, that we literally and figuratively “loose our grip.”

Here’s a demonstration of wrap rage from Larry David in an episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm.

 

The “worst packages” list.

Seniors, including myself, find these following containers the most problematic:

• Hard plastic or clamshells.

• Caps that need to be pushed down and twisted.

• Caps that need to be pushed up after an arrow has been correctly aligned first.

• Blister packages.

• Cans that have a tab to pull back, but no easy way to get under the tab.

• Packages wrapped in thin film, which require a knife to remove.

• Children’s toys that need assembly and have parts tied down with plastic or metal twist-ties.

And what I have found in my discussions with grocery chains and small focus groups with seniors is that large store-brand products, like Shaw’s and Market Basket, have packages that are harder to open than the national brands. They are not motivated to change any of their private-label packaging because no one is complaining, and we think, wrongly, that we have no power to force change.

 

Who is responsible? And what can seniors do?

Retail stores don’t admit to a packaging problem, because items are usually not returned, even when we injure ourselves. They say they have no control and that the companies making the products, their designers, and manufacturers are responsible. And it’s expensive for a company to buy new machinery to run a different package.

But the population in the US is aging. And we are worth it!

Seniors represent 16% of the population, but that number will grow as Baby Boomers age. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) number 76 million. Several characteristics define us. We spoke up and protested. Despite the always underlying poverty in each generation, we are the wealthiest, most physically active generation, and have resources for food, clothing, gifts, and retirement programs. Additionally, in the US, we have the Silent Generation (born between 1928 and 1945) living well into their nineties, with many living alone.

Here’s what we can do to effect change (I’ve already started):

• Return items to stores that we cannot open, especially those that have caused us injury, ask for our money back, and show skin tears, cuts, if possible. Money talks. Can you imagine if there were a turn-in Tuesday, where millions of seniors returned poorly designed packages that caused injury or that could not be opened?

• Speak up for safer packaging for all. AARP can lobby for us. We can also write to or call our state and federal officials, and state and federal consumer bureaus of protection.

• Find out who is testing new products. What percentage of seniors are involved in determining if a new design is safe and easy? What is the cut off age for these testers? Do these tests represent the actual demographics of an aging America?

• Promote good product packaging innovations and companies. Ask pharmacies and grocers to stock products in easy-open packages. For example, in May 2020, Packaging Digest senior technical editor Rick Lingle wrote an article about EEasy Lid that linked to a study testing the new closure. Of those participating, 13.8% were seniors aged 65 to 74. While that is commendable, what about the increasing number of 80 and 90 year olds living alone?

EEasy Lid looks promising. Seniors can search for products with these lids and purchase them. One just pushes a button and the seal is broken, making the containers easy to open.

Here’s another example. Care One has a beautifully designed baby aspirin bottle, featuring a large top with grooves for a good grip. And the bottle contents and dose are easily read! Care One needs to know we like this product.

We need to speak up with criticism and praise.

We are not the Silent Generation. If all else fails, we can open our windows and yell, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

Also, help me help you. The Safe Packaging for Seniors survey below aims to identify troublesome packages and work to make them better. Please share this survey link (www.surveymonkey.com/r/OpenezSeniors) with seniors you know. If you are age 55 or older, feel free to take the survey yourself. Packaging Digest will share the results with you in a couple months.

 

Create your own user feedback survey