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Excess / Excessive Packaging of Products is Shameful
Yesterday my Husband came home with a tub of Vitamin tablets I had asked him to pick up for me in town. What has prompted me to write this hub is the disgust I felt when I opened the tub to see that the contents barely covered the bottom of the container, which in itself was a good 3 inches (8cm) tall and made of plastic. As you will see if you look at both the header picture of this article, and the pictures to the right of this text, there is absolutely no logical reason to make the container so very much larger than could possibly be required to house the thirty tablets it contained. To make matters worse, by being made of plastic this container is likely to still be around long after the human race has died out.
My mind almost instantly recalled another occasion similar to this that happened when I worked for a local facilities management company. As a receptionist I often had to open parcels that were delivered in order to determine who the contents were for. One day a large box about 2ft x 2ft x 18" arrived via courier, and having signed for it I proceeded to open this extremely light box. Inside I was faced with a mountain of polystyrene packaging chips, which I rummaged around in hoping to find the mystery contents of the parcel. After a few moments it became obvious it wasn't going to be so easily located, so I carefully began to scoop out handfuls of the polystyrene chips on to the desk. Eventually I reached the bottom of this large box, by which time I was surrounded by multicoloured polystyrene chips, and looked like I had been snowed in behind the reception desk. Finally, success, at the very bottom of the box, lost in one corner, was a small connector of some description, approximately an inch square in size. I have to confess I was actually laughing by now, as the whole situation was so ridiculous. This item could easily have been sent in a small padded envelope, but no, apparently this cheap connector required packaging that was fit to send a newly discovered Egyptian artefact around the globe in, with sufficient padding to ensure that even a Ming Vase contained in the same box would not break if the office lads chose to play football with the box around the office during their lunch hour. But seriously, I began to wonder if these companies were actually unaware of the current pressure for us to reduce unnecessary packaging in order to protect the welfare of the environment and to reduce the pressures on landfill sites that are already filling up at an alarming rate.
Sainsbury's Wastefully Packaged Meat Joint
Quote from The Daily Mail
Sainsbury's in dock over beef joint that comes in plastic shrink-wrap, placed inside a plastic tray, with a plastic lid and finished with a cardboard sleeve
A landmark prosecution will heap pressure on Britain’s supermarkets to end hugely wasteful food packaging.
Sainsbury’s is being taken to court for using excessive wrapping in a move that could open the door to a wave of similar charges being brought.
The store is the first supermarket to face official action over wasteful packaging.
Trading standards officers have acted decisively over Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Slow Matured Ultimate Beef.
It not only comes in a plastic shrink-wrap, but is placed inside a plastic tray, topped with a transparent plastic lid and surrounded with a cardboard sleeve.
The meat is a typical example of supermarkets’ excess packaging and the resulting waste that campaigners say is turning the country into the ‘dustbin of Europe’.
Around 5 per cent of the average shopping basket is packaging and the UK produces 9.3million tons of waste packaging a year – the equivalent weight of 245 jumbo jets every week.
Other Examples of Excess Packaging
Personally I am frustrated that so far in the UK only Sainsbury's have been prosecuted, especially as there is legislation in place to apparently avoid the use of excess packaging. The trouble appears to be that it is not enforced nearly often enough, and clearly a number of companies continue to ignore the legal risks of continuing this illegal practice, safe in the knowledge little is being done to pursue them.
Another problem is that many companies might simply be sending items from one company to another, and therefore the excess packaging is not seen by the general public or the authorities, (such as in the case I experienced with the tiny connector in the huge box of polystyrene chips). In instances like this I believe that a direct approach to the Managing Directors of these businesses is in order, and that if as an employee you try this and it fails, then the next stage is to report these companies to your local authorities asking them to act on this. The more pressure we apply as individuals the better, and the planet is as much our responsibility as the authorities.
I am additionally bewildered and confused as to how using so much excess packaging is cost effective for these businesses. Surely it must be a lot more expensive for them to make a plastic container five times the size it needs to be to hold a few Vitamin tablets, and I am reasonably certain postage of a huge box to hold one tiny connector would be far more pricey than simply popping said item in a padded envelope and sending it recorded delivery.
I decided to do a quick Internet search to find some more examples of excess packaging gone mad. I have added them to the 'gallery of excess packaging' below, and would be very grateful for any other pictures you might want to email to me showing me examples you have found of the same shameful practice of packaging products to death, (sometimes so much so we can barely get them out of the packaging ourselves unless armed with a large machete or a chainsaw). If you think you might have a suitable picture, or have found a suitable image online, then please either post a link in the comments section below, or contact me directly using the envelope icon below my profile picture at the top of this hub. I can then email you directly and give you an email address to send the image to.
Perhaps between us if we can show enough examples of this practice, and name and shame the companies involved, either they themselves will act on this, or the authorities will know where to start applying pressure and who to go after first. If the country you live in does not have such legislation in place yet, then perhaps you could write to your own Government urging them to take action and introduce it.