Arthritis New Zealand and Packaging New Zealand have joined forces to establish guidelines for accessible packaging in
New Zealand. These guidelines provide practical design advice to address the problems that many people face when opening
ordinary everyday products such as those that have hard-to-pull seals, tear tabs that are too small and lids that cannot
easily be gripped.
The ability to open packaging easily is an ongoing challenge for people with arthritis and has significant implications
including easily accessing food and medicines. In extreme cases people with arthritis may be unable to use certain
packaged products altogether.
“More than 670,000 people in New Zealand have arthritis and this number is projected to increase to one million by 2040
meaning that the necessity of good packaging design will become more important to more people, making it a critical
element for all manufacturers and suppliers to consider,” said Philip Kearney CEO of Arthritis New Zealand.
However, it is not only people with arthritis who have difficulty opening certain packaged products. Our population is
ageing and as a person ages they experience a decrease in dexterity and strength which can cause increased difficulty
managing hard-to-open packaging.
The guidelines were initially developed by Arthritis Australia working with the Georgia Tech Research Institute and
HealthShare NSW. They were a world first and provide scientifically verified standards for making packaging both
functional and easy to open. They are available from Packaging New Zealand and Arthritis New Zealand.
Another step towards raising awareness of the significance of accessible packaging is the introduction of an Accessible
Packaging Design Award in the annual Packaging Innovation and Design Awards run by the Australia Institute of Packaging
and Packaging New Zealand. This award is intended to highlight the need for manufacturers and brand owners to recognise
the increasing significance of improving the accessibility of product packaging.
“Arthritis New Zealand wants to take constructive steps to encourage industry to make accessibility of packaging a
must-have and this has led Arthritis New Zealand to co-sponsor this award,” said Mr Kearney.