That’s a Wrap: The Best and Worst Packaging of 2021

We would like to thank our wonderful community for making this the most successful campaign yet, as we received a record breaking number of nominations and votes for both categories through social media and in our nomination form.

Worst Packaging of 2021

Although we had some familiar foes we also had some new culprits, the worst offenders of 2021 were:

5 – Zip lock bags – this was a debut entry in our list, with feedback indicating that they have become more challenging in recent years, especially for products like wraps and frozen fruit. Factors impairing the users experience include the ability to grip the product and the strength required to open the seal, as well as the ease to which they would reseal.

4 – Squeeze-and-turn child resistant bottles – packaging that requires simultaneous actions are often challenging for the arthritis community, so products like toilet cleaners and mouth wash being described as completely impossible isn’t a surprise. The danger these packaging poses is that the lids will not be reattached due to the pain they cause, which then renders the child resistant features redundant. Manufactures need to undertake research and user testing to find a balance to make these type of closures child-resistant and meet the needs of those with reduced dexterity and hand strength.

3 – Plastic bottles – Sadly it sounds like some of our community are left to go thirsty when it comes to water bottles and soft drink bottles. A trend of smaller and harder to grip caps was identified by voters. Our community also shared stories of needing to ask strangers in public places or grandkids at home to access their drinks. Others used tools to try and break the initial seal, with one person hurting both their front teeth and cutting themselves with a knife during their battles, highlighting the danger tools can pose.

2 – Arthritis medication packaging – disappointingly there are several arthritis medications that continue to be nominated, with our community describing them as “impossible to open”, “seems like a cruel joke” and “there must be a better way”. Past research has shown that hard to open packaging can mean that patients are unable to take their medication in a timely manner, which is extremely concerning. We also hear alarming stories of loved ones using tools like knives to open packaging, sometimes destroying the cap to get it open. Others described the pain and anxiety they felt when confronted by the task of opening certain medicine packaging. Some medications are even a struggle for pharmacy staff to pre-open for patients. We will be relaying these experiences to these medication manufacturers and asking that the end-users needs are taken seriously.

1 – Jars – Both plastic jars and glass jars with metal lids are challenging for consumers with arthritis to open, with many communicating that the experience was painful and required strength beyond their capabilities. This resulted in users having to wait for assistance from loved ones, employ creative opening methods to break the seal or resort to using tools, which as previously highlighted can have dangerous consequences like injuries. Interestingly a previous winner of the best packaging (and nominee again this year in the best category) was the orbit closure on jars, found on products like Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. We encourage companies to integrate design innovations like this into their packaging to prevent unnecessary pain for users as well as the need to resort to creative opening methods or tools like knives.

Best Packaging of 2021

We had a great variety of nominations this year including our Easy to Open Certified (licenced accreditation) Voltaren packaging, as well as other products like toothpastes, laundry detergents and soap dispensers. But the WINNER this year is the small sized Morning Fresh dishwashing liquid. The smaller size bottle was described as being easier to hold, while the pop top nozzle allowed for easy open and closure when washing dishes.

We appreciate all the nominations and votes in this year’s campaign and we look forward to educating the packaging industry about your experiences to help us advocate for more accessible packaging. If you have any additional feedback on packaging you can let us know by using our Packaging Feedback Form.


About That’s a Wrap: the Best and Worst Packaging of 2021

The annual social media campaign is designed to highlight types of packaging consumers have struggled with or found easy-to-open in the past 12 months. Your insights will assist our Accessible Design Division in identifying if particular packaging is becoming easier or harder-to-open over time. Your responses will also be used to educate the packaging industry about your experiences with packaging and hopefully reduce incidences of wrap-rage in the future.

Making a nomination

You can describe a general packaging format like glass jars with metal lids e.g. jam jar, or opening features like an induction seal commonly found on tomato sauce bottles.

ORYou can go into more detail by naming a specific product.

The rules

What does the ‘worst packaging’ mean?

Packaging that counts as the worst:

  • you couldn’t open it at all
  • you opened it after a struggle
  • caused you pain
  • hurt your self-opening it
  • had to use a tool, like a knife or scissors, to open it
  • had to ask someone else to open it for you
  • caused you to damage or spill the contents
  • caused a brief moment of hesitation, anxiety or fear about opening it due to previous negative experiences.

What does the ‘best packaging’ mean?

We are looking for packaging that is genuinely easy-to-open, not just slightly better then a really bad alternative. We may decide to disqualify and exclude packaging from the final tally, if:

  • Packaging still needs a tool to open it, including knives, scissors, grip matts or other creative tools
  • Packaging that consumers commonly hurt themselves opening
  • Nominations that seem to be not genuine e.g. sarcastic responses or if nominations appear to be made by employees of particular manufacturers or brand owners if its believe they are trying to influence the result.

You shouldn’t have to struggle with any packaging, but until that happens we want to know what packaging consistently makes your life easier. We may also buy samples of nominations to confirm that they are in fact reasonably accessible.

Other criteria

  • You can make nominations through our online form, as well as our social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as long as we are tagged in it and can see the response. If you prefer, you can call or write to us. Your experiences are what counts!
    • Tag us:
      • Use the hashtag: #bestandworstwrap
      • Twitter@ArthritisAust
      • Facebook: @ArthritisAustralia
      • Instagram: @ArthritisAustralia
  • Each Facebook ‘like’ or ‘comment’ agreeing with a nomination will be accepted as a vote towards that nomination. When nominations are made as descriptions rather then specific product names, we will group the nominations and votes as best as possible when tallying the final results.
  • You can nominate multiple products, but only one vote per person will be counted per nomination. In other words you can’t ‘vote’ for your own nomination. Here’s how it works:
    • Amy on Facebook nominates a product, which is then counted as one vote towards Product X
    • Bob comments on Amy’s post in support of that nomination, this will be counted as a vote towards the same Product X
    • Melissa then ‘likes’ both Amy’s nomination and Bob’s comment on Facebook, only one of these reactions will be counted, so one additional vote would go towards Product X
    • Max nominates Product X through the online form, this is counted as one vote towards that product
    • A total of four votes would be tallied for Product X.
  • If you specifically name a product and brand/manufacturer in the campaign we will try our best to contact them to let them know a nomination was made regarding their product. If you provide more details through our online form and provide an email address, we can follow up with any additional details needed to make a complaint. We will also ask your permission to share your contact details with the manufacturer so they can contact you directly about your experience. The more they know about the issues the more likely they are to make changes.
  • We love to hear stories about your experiences, both good and bad, as we use these to educate the packaging industry about your needs. If you have photos or videos then that’s even better, please upload them and tag us so they can be counted as a nomination. Alternatively you can send the file directly to us at [email protected]
  • Nominations will be open for all of December 2021 and the top responses will be announced on social media in late January.
  • Arthritis Australia will choose to tally the products based on the product name, packaging category or packaging opening feature. Arthritis Australia reserve the right to interpret nomination and votes as well as promote diverse selection of category winners.
  • This is a survey about Australian packaging, so please only participate if you have been opening packaging bought in Australia. If you’re in New Zealand, let us know and we can pass your responses onto our New Zealand counterparts, who are also trying to improve packaging for consumers.