10 Ridiculous Wastes of Packaging Materials and How to Stop It

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iittala-over-packaging

Over-packaging seems to be the norm in our excessive society but too much packaging causes problems for the consumer, as well as the planet.  It’s frustrating to tear through huge boxes filled with endless packaging foam to finally unwrap the tiny iPod you’ve been waiting on – getting rid of all that waste is an entirely new battle, not to mention all the unnecessary space required during shipping for too much packaging.  We’ve gathered some of the most ridiculous examples of over-packaging and included a few ways you can help diminish the excess.

ear_hooks_in_box

These 2 little bitty Bluetooth ear hooks from Motorola were really the only items in this super-sized box.  The 2-inch components could have easily shared a padded envelope and maybe even saved on shipping costs – but everyone appreciates a big complimentary box of air. (Source: Overpackaging on Gizmodo)

overpackaging

This over-packaging mishap was committed by the Danish kitchenwares company, Rosti.  Within this humongous box, 2 pizza pans and a water pitcher could have safely survived in a container less than half the size. (Source: Bamakko)

adapter

The tiny iPhone headphone adapter above, already in it’s manufacturing packaging, was shipped from PC Connection. The bubble envelope it was placed in would have probably been sufficient for shipping, but to be on the safe side(?), the envelope was carefully placed on top of another empty envelope, surrounded by needless paper, and sent on its way in a waste of cardboard. (Source: Consumerist.com)

amazon_ipod

Amazon seems to be a fan of excessive packaging, earning themselves multiple spots in our collection. This particular shipment was nothing but the minute iPod Nano – in a box big enough to hold a child. (Source: Overpackaging.com)

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Dell (or a Dell vendor, according to their spokesperson via Treehugger) is also guilty of overdoing the packaging materials. This lonely little flash drive’s only companion inside a way-too-big empty box was a waste of shipping paper. Source: Overpackaging at Treehugger)

hp_overpackaging

HP isn’t doing much better. What would  you expect to find after unwrapping this much plastic and tape – all neatly packaged on its very own wooden pallet?  A small box that could have been shipped without the pallet and extras, containing nothing more than a mere PS2 mouse. (Source: The Register)

overpackaging

Notice the small bottle sitting in front of all these boxes? The glass bottle contains 1 gram of a toxic chemical called ethidium bromide. There were definitely no worries of contamination the way this thing was (over)packaged – bubble wrap, inside a large paper-filled bag, inside a closed tin, in a really big box, in an even bigger box. (Source: Too Much Packaging at Wired)

iittala-over-packaging1

This is a first-class example of waayy too much packaging. The 6 very small boxes in the corner were shipped by iittala. Rather than pack all 6 boxes in one larger box (with plenty of room to spare), each little box deserved its own big box for one great big over-packaging mistake. (Source: Treehugger)

hp_packaging_14

What would you like in your gigantic HP box? I’ll bet it isn’t 32 sheets of paper! The mega box shown here was filled with 16 smaller boxes, each containing 2 pages of obviously fragile info. Do envelopes still exist? (Source: The Register)

amazon-webcam-overpackaging

This is another over-packaging example from Amazon.  The lone webcam couldn’t have asked for a bigger shipping box unless it was coming from HP!  (Source: Tom Bullock via Flickr)

What Can You Do?

lush_nakedEmployees of LUSH Cosmetics get naked to draw attention to the waste of unneeded packaging.  The ‘bare message’ campaign has been held for 2 years now, with 24 different locations participating in 2008.

UK Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw, has given shoppers a new voice in the fight against over-packaging.  After a disappointing reduction of only 12% between 1999 and 2005, consumers were urged to leave their excess and unnecessary packaging at the checkout counter – forcing grocers to take action.

Tesco is working to meet the goal of waste reduction by 2010 – with the help of their customers.  Shoppers are asked to dump packaging they find excessive before leaving the store, helping the company learn where the biggest reductions can be made.

If leaving your packaging waste at the counter isn’t an option and getting naked doesn’t seem like the most effective strategy, continue to submit your excessive packaging photos to websites like ours and those mentioned above.  

You can also do your best to avoid products with excessive packaging and send a note to online companies that over-package to let them know you’re disappointed.  Contact Congress and the Obama administration and urge the US to step forward and take action against excessive packaging.

16 thoughts on “10 Ridiculous Wastes of Packaging Materials and How to Stop It”

  1. Ecoble,

    Thanks for bringing more awareness to the issue of packaging. This is an issue that we at Dell have heard quite a bit from our customers, and one we take very seriously. The case you reference occurred last year, and spurred some big changes here. Immediately after it was brought to our attention, we had a representive on the road to Dallas to meet with the vendor and find out what happened and how we can prevent it in the future. For more on this particular event, see our Direct2Dell post on it: http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/

    For our own part, we have implemented a few big changes to our packaging strategy, focusing on the “three Cs,” cube, content, and curb. Here's the full story, complete with a video:
    http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/

    I won't say “problem solved” because this is a critical issue that requires ongoing attention. Fortunately we have an engaged customer base letting us know what else we can do to improve and internal teams constantly working to find better ways to reduce Dell's impact on the planet. To join the conversation, and offer your own ideas and suggestions, please go to IdeaStorm.com. We are looking forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, check out Direct2Dell.com and Dell.com/earth to learn the latest news from our sustainability efforts.

    Thanks,
    Todd Dwyer
    Dell Community Liaison – Environment

  2. Ecoble,

    Thanks for bringing more awareness to the issue of packaging. This is an issue that we at Dell have heard quite a bit from our customers, and one we take very seriously. The case you reference occurred last year, and spurred some big changes here. Immediately after it was brought to our attention, we had a representive on the road to Dallas to meet with the vendor and find out what happened and how we can prevent it in the future. For more on this particular event, see our Direct2Dell post on it: http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/

    For our own part, we have implemented a few big changes to our packaging strategy, focusing on the “three Cs,” cube, content, and curb. Here's the full story, complete with a video:
    http://en.community.dell.com/blogs/direct2dell/

    I won't say “problem solved” because this is a critical issue that requires ongoing attention. Fortunately we have an engaged customer base letting us know what else we can do to improve and internal teams constantly working to find better ways to reduce Dell's impact on the planet. To join the conversation, and offer your own ideas and suggestions, please go to IdeaStorm.com. We are looking forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, check out Direct2Dell.com and Dell.com/earth to learn the latest news from our sustainability efforts.

    Thanks,
    Todd Dwyer
    Dell Community Liaison – Environment

  3. Terrific post, and great encouragement for just a little bit of thought.

    (The impacts go beyond the package, of course. Bigger box > fewer boxes per truck/plane/ship > more energy+carbon+ cost per product unit shipped. OTOH, companies ranging from Ikea to Wal-Mart have found big savings from reducing package size; see http://tinyurl.com/crprn5)

  4. The offering of pasting pictures of the wastes is rather more beneficial than getting naked for a purpose.I will love to contribute to this website id ever i get a chance to take any such picture..

  5. Over packing is ridiculous and silly, I don't know why companies choose this method but as a customer I really find it more annoying than promotional. My house is filled with cardboard boxes, I didn't throw them away because I will need them for my relocation, Tampa movers will just help me to transport my stuff.

  6. You used the right word here:ridiculous. I can't believe all these huge boxes only contained such tiny objects. It's RIDICULOUS! What are those people planning to achieve whit that?
    Donn, moving box

  7. You used the right word here:ridiculous. I can't believe all these huge boxes only contained such tiny objects. It's RIDICULOUS! What are those people planning to achieve whit that?
    Donn, moving box

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