COVID-19 and your packaging – is it safe to handle?
Your packaging likely passes through 20+ hands before it arrives to your customer: the factory workers that created the packaging, the packers that load the packing onto a truck, the truck drivers that unload the packaging to the warehouse, the warehouse workers that stock the product, the mail carriers that pick up and ship the product, etc.
Should you be concerned and what actions can you take?
First, it’s important to note that studies have shown coronavirus can survive from hours to days in the air / on surfaces1, and that it is possible to contract the virus from touching the surface of an object that has been infected with the virus2. With that in mind, the type of surface it may land on will greatly affect the ability to clean and sterilize the surface.
For paper packaging, the choice is typically between coated vs uncoated paper. Uncoated is more porous, like a sponge. There are microscopic nooks and crannies, and makes cleaning very difficult as it would absorb the water/cleaning solution and likely warp the packaging.
Coated papers on the other hand have a thin coating on top, which seals off the porous surface of the paper, and makes cleaning much easier as the coating is water-repellent- you can wipe the surface with a cleaner/disinfectant without warping the material.
Likewise with fabrics, unless the fabric has been treated with a water-repelling coating such as wax or plastic, it will be very difficult to clean thoroughly and/or dry quickly.
So, if you are already producing packaging that is either an uncoated paper, or untreated fabric, or some other porous type material, then the most cost effective and quickest solution recommended would be to add a secondary non-porous / water-repellent layer such as a poly bag. There are also some eco-friendly bioplastics, such as cassava, corn starch, even shrimp shells.
Also recommended would be to speak to each section of your supply chain about safe handling practices, such as making sure each team member has thoroughly washed and disinfected their hands before handling your packaging. If possible, enforce wiping down/disinfecting your packaging before delivering to the consumer- especially if the product is destined for a high traffic and/or medical setting (such as hospitals, restrooms, office settings, schools, etc).