Electronics manufacturers are finally coming together for a cause I think we can all support: getting rid of the impossible-to-open, finger-slicing, dangerous-sharp-tool-requiring plastic prisons for our gadgets known as the clamshell package. Amazon started the struggle, and Sony, Microsoft, and Best Buy are jumping in to finish the job. Apparently over 6,000 Americans per year make hospital visits because of injuries (cuts, mostly) sustained by opening the damn clamshells. The design was created to curb theft, so it's no problem for Amazon to implement it; it's awfully tough to shoplift from an online store. But when Microsoft decides to sell its Explorer mouse at Best Buy in an easily-opened zipper package, you know times are a'changin. Sony is implementing a package, for use at Best Buy and Walmart, that is easily opened but emits a loud noise, like Velcro tearing, to deter in-store thieves. Mike Fasulo, chief marketing officer for Sony, said, "None of us intentionally tried to make this a hassle for consumers," which is pretty nice for a total non-apology apology. Death to the clamshell! [NYTimes]
The fact that the clamshells are difficult to open is, for me, only a secondary concern. The primary concern is that they are fairly wasteful. While the plastic might in theory be recyclable, I don't know anyone who actually attempts to recycle it. In addition, I know for a fact that my local recycling agency won't take them even if you try (they only want #1 and #2 plastic bottles).
I'd be completely in favor of everything shipping in plain old, non see-through cardboard boxes. There is plenty of room on the outside of the box to print a nice big picture of what the product looks like - I don't need to see the actual product, if it means they can do without all that wasteful plastic.