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Packaging Engineers

History

Certain packages, particularly glass containers, have been used for more than 3,000 years; the metal can was developed to provide food for Napoleon's army. However, the growth of the packaging industry developed during the Industrial Revolution, when shipping and storage containers were needed for the increased numbers of goods produced. As the shipping distance from producer to consumer grew, more care had to be given to packaging so goods would not be damaged in transit. Also, storage and safety factors became important with the longer shelf life required for goods produced.

Modern packaging methods have developed since the 1920s with the introduction of cellophane wrappings. Since World War II, early packaging materials such as cloth and wood have been largely replaced by less expensive and more durable materials such as steel, aluminum, and plastics such as polystyrene. Modern production methods have also allowed for the low cost, mass production of traditional materials such as glass and paperboard. Government agencies, manufacturers, and designers are constantly trying to improve packaging so that it is more efficient, convenient, safe, and informative.

Today, packaging engineers must also consider environmental factors when designing packaging because the disposal of used packages has presented a serious problem for many communities. The United States uses more than 500 billion packages yearly; 50 percent of these are used for food and beverages and another 40 percent for other consumer goods. To help solve this problem, packaging engineers attempt to come up with solutions such as the use of recyclable, biodegradable, or less bulky packaging.

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