End to 'wrap rage' misery

WE'VE all experienced the frustration of 'wrap rage', struggling with a lack of superhuman strength – or a toolbox – to get through packaging.

But get through this Christmas and you'll never again have to put your life in danger as you try to unwrap a precious gift.

Online retailer Amazon is ditching plastic packaging in favour of the old-fashioned cardboard box. Companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Mattel have signed up to Amazon's campaign against wrap rage, dumping the 'clamshell' plastic that makes products such as electronics and toys almost impossible to open without power tools.

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Launching in the US this month, the scheme of sending gifts out in environmentally friendly cardboard will be rolled out to the UK via Amazon.co.uk in early 2009.

Jeffrey Bezos, founder of Amazon and father of four young children, said: "I shouldn't have to start each Christmas morning with needle-nose pliers and wire cutters. I arm myself, and it still takes me 10 minutes to open each package."

Amazon's launch of frustration-free packaging aims to help those people, with an increasing number of best-selling products arriving in cardboard boxes that do not fight back. Bezos said: "Everyone is excited about this project here. Everyone had their own war stories."

Ironically, companies resorted to plastic packaging to encourage customers to buy toys and electronics items, allowing them to see the increasingly complex items.

To do so while protecting the items, they decided to seal the hinges of containers to resist shoplifting. Amazon hopes all its products can be delivered in cardboard boxes in 10 years and wants more companies to join the big names already affiliated to the campaign as it spreads to Europe next year.

While it is relatively easy for online retailer Amazon to adopt the scheme, as it does not need to display products, even those who sell from shops are coming up with solutions to Christmas's most lethal problem. Sony is aiming for "death of the clamshell" with packaging prototypes currently being tested, after hearing reports of customers resorting to hacksaws to open packages.

Sony's new method uses an adhesive that is easy to pry open but makes a loud Velcro-like noise, intended to deter thieves.

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