Packaging waste represents about one-third of all municipal trash – making this type of waste a significant contributor to the global waste crisis. Most of this packaging waste is largely unnecessary. Take a look at these 10 egregious examples of packaging waste to see what we mean!
Small Electronics: Lots of small electronics like USBs and storage cards are sold in heavy plastic packages. For a 3 inch item like this, the packaging can be up to 15x larger than the actual item.
Plastic Water Bottles: These might be the most wasteful packaged item in stores because there is almost no reason to buy them. Instead, refill a reusable water bottle with free, clean water from the tap. Despite this obvious alternative, 60 million plastic water bottles are consumed every day in the U.S. – and only 14% end up in the recycling. The rest, over 18 billion every year, are sent to landfills.
Packaged fruits and vegetables: any sort of wrapper or package on fruits and vegetables is a huge waste! These items have their own natural, protective skins.
Apple iPhones and iPods: Although the boxes tend to be small, in each product there are tons of unnecessary pieces of plastic around each little component in the box. Apple is even starting to use a hard plastic case as their new packaging system instead of cardboard.
Caprisun: Capri Sun is another example of individually packaged items (drink pouches) inside a larger bulk package (a cardboard box). What makes these pouches so bad is that they are made of aluminum and plastic bonded together, making them all but impossible to recycle. Still, there’s a glimmer of hope! A company called Terracycle collects used Capri Sun pouches and turns them into new items like bags and purses! Still, millions of pouches are sent to landfills each year.
100 Calorie Pack Snacks: The companies that sell 100-calorie packs are less worried about packaging and more about portion size. Instead, you can just buy bulk and parcel out proper serving sizes into reusable tupperware.
Barbie Dolls: In 2011, Greenpeace discovered that the cardboard boxes used to package Barbie dolls were sourced from Indonesian rain forests. To make things worse, the packaging includes non-recyclable plastic and wires.
Make up products: Most make-up is a small amount of product inside a plastic container, which is then wrapped in more cardboard and plastic. When you consider the total mass of packaging versus the volume of the makeup itself, it’s clear that things are out of balance.
Chips Bags: The size of a chip bag or most snacks is not equivalent to the amount of food actually in the bag – the bags are inflated with air to appear larger. That means that the amount of packaging could almost be cut in half.
Crest White Strips: Not only are these teeth-whitening strips packaged inside a non-recyclable plastic container, each of the 40 strips inside is also individually wrapped in aluminum. Using two separate levels of packaging is a common part of the packaging problem.
Can you think of another example of wasteful packaging? Let us know in a comment!