Packaging: Think Shrink

Is the electric can opener—that monument to America's compulsive escape from kitchen work—already doomed?

The answer is yes, or so it must have appeared to the throngs who attended last week's 37th annual National Packaging Exposition in the New York Coliseum. Of some 400 companies representing the $30 billion-a-year packaging industry, most seemed to be devising ways to get along without a can opener.

The pull-tab top on beer cans has now been adapted to all sorts of potables and edibles. To replace the pull-tab itself, and end complaints that it causes bloody...

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