One of National Geographic’s latest reports on plastic pollution looks at the enormous variety and abundance of plastic packaging, including tough-to-open clamshells and why this type of packaging has become a major headache for the recycling industry.
According to the report, product packaging generates more plastic waste than any other industry and is a $700 billion-a-year industry that is growing at 5.6 percent per year. Clamshells, like most packaging, are single-use plastics, and while they are technically recyclable, few are recycled in the U.S., reports National Geographic. “That needs to change quickly if product manufacturers and the plastics industry are to meet their commitments to recycle or recover all plastics and greatly increase their use of recycled plastic in packaging,” the report states.
National Geographic has more information:
The scissors were on sale for $3. Suspended between two thick layers of tough plastic, they looked permanently imprisoned. Ingenuity, and no small amount of effort, would be needed to free my excellent deal from its clamshell prison. But there was also a risk that blood would be spilled—my blood. Thousands of people seek medical treatment every year with cuts and other injuries from attempting to open clamshells and other similar packages.
Clamshells have not only been voted the worst design ever, they've spawned the term “wrap rage” as exemplified by comedian Larry David’s attempt to open one. Despite all this, products inside clamshells line the shelves of retail stores and supermarkets.