Packaging, what is packaging? What are the uses of packaging? Why is packaging the 3rd largest industry in the world?
To simply put it we use packaging for nearly EVERYTHING, using a typical person’s lifestyle as an example you can truly see how much packaging and packaging related objects impact our lives... Even without us knowing.
1. 6am/7am wake up call, using a normal analogue alarm clock - you may not think of packaging this early in your day but think again. An alarm clock works by using a mainspring (industrial packaging) which drives a gear (industrial packaging) that propels a hammer back and forth between two bells (metal packaging), the inner side of a bell or the back encasement (Metal packaging) could also act as a bell. The outer cover protects the parts inside (usually plastic/metal/rubber packaging).
Nowadays everyone is using their iPhone or Samsung Galaxy to wake up without the plastic/rubber/ metal packaging on the phone itself or its cover (which there is very little off) the phones would be very fragile. But phone packaging is a totally different area that I will discuss later.
2. After waking up (with a jolt) from being disturbed by the alarm – you grab your slippers... now here comes the question “what is the purpose of packaging?” The answer that comes to mind without looking at any definitions is “packaging protects, packaging covers and packaging contains” in this case the slippers are doing all three (material packaging) on the outside and the material itself is being protected by the sole(usually rubber packaging). Slippers can protect you when bumping into hard or sharp surfaces (especially when you have just woken up) and also and from coming in contact with pathogens on the floor.
3. After finding your way to the bathroom – You crack open a fresh tube of toothpaste (cardboard packaging) and the tube itself is usually made from plastic, you rinse your toothbrush (plastic outer casing) and continue brushing. You'll head downstairs and open up your box of vacuum packed cereal - where the oxygen has been taken out and replaced with an inert gas, such as nitrogen. The outer cover is made from cardboard/recycled packaging. Next you pour it into a bowl (usually plastic/glass/ceramic) and head over to fridge to get some milk (packaged aseptically in glass/cardboard/bags/plastic packaging) and finally with spoon (usually plastic/metal) alas, you enjoy your breakfast.
4. A quick glance at the clock (as you realise you’re getting late for work) and you rush upstairs for a shower, here you find various bathroom products (usually made from plastic that sometimes come in cardboard packaging). The shower head with the flexible connecting hose is encased in metal and plastic; whether your shower is within a bathtub (plastic) or against the wall (glass) it’s packaging.
The tiles protecting the bathroom (ceramic) along with the metal/plastic around the drainage are also packaging even though we not think this is directly related; bath mats made of material are also used to cover the floor. The same applies for sinks (ceramic/metal/plastic), toilets (plastic, ceramic/metal), additional fixtures (toilet roll holders, towel holders and more) windows (glass/plastic casing, metal), mirrors (metal coating, glass, plastic casing). In the 15-30 minutes you have spent showering I’m sure you would have thought of more.
5. Time is not your friend today and you quickly take your shirt and suit out of the hanger (yes hangers are packaging usually plastic, metal, rubber – there are others) from your wardrobe/ drawers (wooden/plastic/metal) and get changed. You quickly apply any products you may have such as aftershave (glass/plastic/ cardboard cover), panic about where your shoes/boots, (material, plastic aglets, rubber sole), briefcase (material with metal/plastic) and watch (metal, plastic, glass, material) are.
After quickly checking you have everything you need with you some of which are: wallet (material, metal, plastic), phone, earphones (plastic, metal and rubber) you quickly turn off the lights (glass, metal, material, and plastic). The outer cover is usually present to protect the incandescent light bulb inside, the tungsten filament is protected by the glass casing of the light bulb and the hot filament is prevented from oxidation by the halogen inside...
6. Summer is here! Well not exactly, whilst leaving your house you notice the weather has turned from dry and sunny to rainy (with hailstones) and cloudy. Quickly you retrieve an umbrella, (metal, material, plastic, rubber) and lock up (industrial, metal). There are many types of locks depending on how afraid you are of getting robbed. But, typical locks use a pin system with the grooved key tripping certain pins allowing it to rotate.
Next you pop into the car. What do cars do other than drive from point A to point B? Cars shield you from bad weather, insects and dirt amongst other things (metal, rubber, industrial, plastic, material, adhesive, paper, wooden, glass, aluminium).
I’m not a car expert but, within the car components themselves there is also packaging.
7. Finally, while wasting about 20% of your time in traffic and seeing countless red lights and roadwork’s happening you arrive at your destination, park head up the stairs/elevator (metal, plastic, industrial) and head into your office.
You quickly mix together some coffee in a (paper/cardboard/plastic/ceramic) cup/mug using a spoon (plastic/metal). The sugar and coffee are found in glass jars with plastic screw on lids (yay more packaging). And the hot water in this case comes from a hot and cold water dispenser (plastic bottle with metal heating element). After getting up to date with any emails, calls, texts and social media half way through you finish the coffee and dispose of it in a trash can (metal/ plastic).
What is the total number of packaging items so far?
How many packaging accidents have you had?
8. Work, work and more work. Now depending on what your job is this could range from coming up with creative ideas, design & coding, networking with people, spreadsheets/paperwork and other things normally done within an office environment. On the other hand, your job could require travelling or even spending the majority of your time outdoors. Whatever it is, packaging plays a key role sometimes, you just can’t afford to stop and take the time to look around.
Well that is... until you notice that the water bottle you are now holding is leaking, from not screwing the lid on correctly or you have split your diet coke and it is fizzing/pouring out everywhere. Of course now re-sealable drink cans have been designed, so let’s hope this solves the issue of coke being split of thousands of keyboards in the near future. Yes it happens...
How many packaging accidents have you had?
9. Before you know it, it’s already lunchtime and you find yourself wandering down the many aisles of your local Tesco’s in search for something to eat... Plastic containers, plastic bottles, glass jars, paper wrapping, labels, cardboard, metal and so many more – a packaging gold mine. After your lunch you discard your food packaging inside more packaging (Rubbish bin).
For those health fanatics that are calorie counting, your skin (the largest external organ) is also packaging, it’s a barrier that helps your internal organs, muscles and fluids from coming in contact with bacteria/viruses and diseases. Your internal organs are protected or packaged by fat which cushions them from damage and also by bones. Blood is packaged in vessels and so many other parts of the human body are packaged in some form to protect it.
Can you think of more ways in which your body acts as packaging?
Look forward to hearing how much packaging affects the rest of your day from The World of Packaging & Team.
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