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Easy to open packagingA consumer’s guide to the European technical specification for packaging –ease of opening (CEN TS 15945)If you’ve ever struggled to get into a carton, a packet or a jar, you’re notalone: nearly half of over-65s, and one in six people under 40, find it hardto open everyday items, such as plastic milk bottles or jars.While packaging has to be robust and secure enough CEN TS 15945 – The detailsto protect what’s inside – often over long distancesor a long shelf life – it’s also vital that consumers can The best way to find out whether packaging is easy to openaccess the contents easily. With an ageing population is to ask real people to use it. This is why the specificationand more people living independently into old age, recommends using a group of ordinary but older consumersit’s more important than ever that packaging is easy to carry out the testing, as described below.to open for everyone, including older people whotend to have reduced hand strength. The consumer panelThere’s also increasing demand from consumers of all ages • The testing panel will consist of up to 100 people agedfor products – from cartons to tins to bottles – that can be between 65 and 80. Hand strength tends to reduce asopened without the need for traditional tools such as tin we get older, so, if this group of people can open theopeners, scissors or corkscrews. items with ease, the vast majority of the population will also be able to manage the task.Fortunately, manufacturers are realising the importanceof making their products accessible and easy to open, • 70% of panel members will be female to reflect the factand many are investing in the development of more that women generally have a weaker grip than men do.user-friendly packaging. Studies show that consumerswill avoid buying products that are difficult to open, The testso ease of opening can mean more sales – as well The test is designed to evaluate the consumer’s completeas happier customers. experience of using the packaging – from opening itThe technical specification (TS) described in this leaflet to taking out the contents to closing it again. Packaginghas been launched to help manufacturers design packaging is tested for effectiveness, efficiency, and user satisfaction,that all consumers, whatever their age or physical strength, as follows.can open with ease. • Effectiveness: The effectiveness test asks the users to open an unfamiliar package, then allows them upCEN TS 15945 – The basics to five minutes to read the opening instructions and• CEN TS 15945 doesn’t stipulate a type of packaging that open the package. must be used. Instead, it sets out a method for testing • Efficiency: Once the user is familiar with the pack, how easy it is to open a particular design of packaging. they are asked to open a second sample of the pack.• The test can be used for a range of consumer packaging, This time, they are expected to be able to complete including jars, bottles, cartons, boxes and cans. the task within a minute.• The test method involves asking a group of consumers • Satisfaction: Users are then asked to take out some of aged between 65 and 80 to open the packaging and the contents from the opened pack, and reclose the pack reach the contents inside, taking note of how long (where applicable). Each user records their own satisfaction this takes and how easy users find it. with the process – showing how easy they found the task and whether or not it was uncomfortable or problematic.• The TS is voluntary and can be used by anyone with an interest in accessible packaging – including designers, manufacturers, retailers and consumer groups.
Using the results• From the results of the small sample of users, it’s possible of testers can open it efficiently and effectively and were to work out how the population as a whole will cope with satisfied with the process. the packaging. • Manufacturers can use the test results to improve existing• There is no pass or fail mark but the packaging will packaging and develop new, more accessible products. be considered to be easy to open if the large majorityChecklist: What to expect✓ You can expect organizations to take note of the TS and to use the test method when designing new packaging and reviewing existing products.✓ Consumer groups might also use the specification to test different types of packaging. They are likely to report their findings publicly and to lobby manufacturers for improvements.✓ Over the next few years, the TS will be tried and possibly modified and expanded, and is likely to be adopted as a British Standard in 2014. USEFUL INFORMATION AgeUK – 020 8996 9001 – www.ageuk.org.uk British Standards Institution (BSI) – 020 8996 9001 – www.bsigroup.com European Committee for Standardization (CEN) – www.cen.eu Ricability (consumer testing for older and disabled people) – 020 7427 2460 – www.ricability.org.uk What are British Standards? The British Standards Institution (BSI) has been developing standards for over 100 years to make products and services safer for consumers. Standards set out good practice and guidelines for organisations to follow. It’s not compulsory for organisations to sign up to a standard, so you can feel confident that those that choose to comply with British Standards take safety and customer service seriously.