How to avoid the pains of plastic packaging

- With the holidays come the gifts, but a lot of those gifts come in blister packs, the impossible-to-open plastic shell. The result? Frustration, and even sometimes blood.

"The plastic is really hard,” Joni Padden complained.

"I cut across the top but I still have to pry,” busy mom Mary Joyner offered. “It takes about five minutes even after you cut it open, and I've cut myself a few times because it’s sharp.”

FOX 13 headed down to Key Packaging in Sarasota to learn the method behind the madness of their clamshell creations. What are they for, anyway?

"Breakage and damage," explained Steve Akel of Key Packaging. 

Akel said Key’s biggest customers are medical, so a lot of the packaging they create has to be air tight and is all about keeping the product clean and safe. But beyond that, he said that pre-formed plastic packaging exists to protect consumer goods -- whatever they are.

"We're taking this -- what we call sheet -- feeding it into the machine.  The machine heats the plastic so it can be malleable and then we have a tool that comes down and makes the shape or part the way the customer wants it,” Akel said as he demonstrated the process.

Packaging, molded to a product's shape, helps companies keep costs down.

"Automotive has been really big the last few years because they need to be careful.  Like a wiper blade it's $300 to $400 and can't afford to be broken," Akel said.

It also prevents theft. 

“Their concern is making sure the package is closed so nobody can take it out in the store," explained Akel.

But sometimes people can't take it out of the package at home either.

"You normally butcher the package and wind up cutting yourself," Tampa shopper Robert Jackson complained.

A study from the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that attempts to open packaging caused about 6,500 emergency department visits in the U.S. in just one year.

"All I can recommend is don't get frustrated,” Akel suggested with a smile and a shrug.  “Take time and use scissors or a knife and be super careful.”

Cut the plastic before it cuts you. Scissors work, especially kitchen scissors, but tin snips work wonders to help you preserve the wonder of the season.

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