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EXCESSIVE PACKAGING
Last modified: October 09, 2008
[These products were suggested by readers of the GreenYes Listserv in response to a query posted in late November 2000. Below that is a list of ten products that received WasteMaker Awards from MASSPIRG in 1999.]

AND THE WINNER IS ...

lunchables!
-- Melissa Terry

I think one of the worst offenders is Lunchables. A plastic tray with individual compartments for erstwhile food items, wrapped in plastic with a chipboard label. Three, and on some items like sauce packets that have four, layers of wrapping to get to the foodstuff. Plus, it is often used for kids lunches -- teaching them that this is optimal. While this is a small item, it is sold in huge volume and is truly a 'posterpackage' for needless overpackaging. I have heard -- although I couldn't give a reference for this that there are even some schools that have banned this product from their cafeterias.
-- Laura Neuman, St. Louis, MO

Lunchables are right up there at the top of the list. Several individually wrapped items all wrapped up in more packaging that's not recyclable. The new Frito Lay product with the salsa and chips individually wrapped in plastic is a beaut, too. It's really a ton of work to buy a bag of chips and a jar of salsa! I think if you were in a hurry, and wanted to get to the food fast, it would take longer to open the Frito Lay snack pack than it would to open a bag of chips and a jar of salsa. Haven't timed it, but I could be persuaded.

Campbell's quick lunch microwaveables are also a waste. The container is a mix of metal and plastic, has both plastic and aluminum lids, and is definitely destined for the dump. Breakfast Mates was my all-time favorite, but Kellogg's discontinued the product, because it wasn't selling. People saw through the ruse.
-- Charlotte Becker, OR

My "favorite" over-packaged item is Lunchables. You probably already have them on your list, but I couldn't resist sending in my vote.
-- Janine Bogar, Olympia WA

RUNNER UPS:

McDonald's happy meals. Kids love them, landfills don't.
-- Paul Devine, Seattle

I truly get upset when I'm at Costco and see phone cards (we all know how big they are) wrapped in enough plastic to choke a horse.
-- Jim Haynes, Spokane WA

My personal favorite: Kool-Aid Kool Bursts
-- Jean Lundquist, Mankato MN

Dentyne Ice Gum comes in a paperboard package and uses foil and plastic inside the paperboard. I won't buy it.
-- Elyse Olson, San Diego CA

Newman's Own Organics chocolate bar -- wrapped in 3 separate papers.
-- Debra Lombard, CT

Unless you're into crazy crafting, the M and M minis that come in hard plastic tubes are a huge waste. My niece sent me a whole box of these. After I ate the candy, I peeled the wrapper off the tubes and saved the tubes. I'm still trying to figure out how to use them. Suggestions?

Over the counter medicines and vitamins are generally another good example. There's a box, then the bottle with an inner seal and a bunch of cotton. In the spring, I put the cotton in a suet feeder and hang it where the birds can glean nesting material. It generally disappears. The box and the bottle are recyclable, but why the box if its not really needed?
-- Charlotte Becker, OR

Mentadent toothpaste is very over-packaged.
-- John Jakupcak, West Hollywood CA

I recently ordered two books from amazon.com. Apparently, if you place an order for more than one book, or other product, the company will ship the products as they are available, instead of holding the products until they can ship them together.
-- Amy Jewel

I recently bought a 2000 Ford Focus, and while the car didn't come with any excess packaging, they sent me a "thank you" gift I couldn't believe. It consisted of a horrible, pink sports watch thingy, in its own box, with a little instruction manual in 3 languages that was almost bigger than the watch itself, a cardboard photo frame you could Velcro to your dashboard, and a series of promo cards for upgrades - the $189 pet care package (heated blanket, water bowl, etc.) or the $89 dashboard poetry and hippie stickers come to mind. The whole thing came in a cardboard box the size of a shoebox.
-- Terri Steen



1999 TENTH ANNUAL WASTEMAKER AWARD RECIPIENTS

MASSPIRG issued WasteMaker Awards for at least 10 years (1990-1999). From a press release:

"The 1999 Wastemaker Award winners were chosen by the Recycling Initiative Campaign after polling Massachusetts recycling activists. Wastemaker Award candidates are widely used (and widely available in Massachusetts) products that are clear cases of over-packaging or environmentally-harmful packaging.

Products sold individually wrapped

1) Fig Newtons Snack Packs (Nabisco)
The extra packaging makes these products some of the most wasteful on the shelves. Individual snacks are held in plastic, with additional plastic covering the entire set of snacks. Parents would be doing their kids more of a favor by buying larger boxes of snacks and putting small amounts in reusable containers to bring to school.

2) "Sunny Delight" 8 pack (Proctor and Gamble)
This wasteful pack consists of eight individual eight fl. oz. bottles shrink-wrapped together. Consumers would be more 'delighted' if Proctor and Gamble lost the unnecessary plastic, and the inflated packaging costs. Consumers pay for the excess packaging: the cost of the 8 pack is $2.59 for 64 fl. oz., while the cost of a regular 64 fl. oz. bottle is only $1.29.

Toxic packaging -- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
3) CVS Brand Carpet Cleaner (22 fl oz.)

4) Pine Sol Lemonfresh Cleaner and Anti Bacterial Spray (33 fl oz) The Clorox Company

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) creates toxic health hazards throughout its entire life cycle. The production of PVC and its disposal through incineration creates dioxins, among the most dangerous toxins known. Many dioxins are linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental disorders, and immune system damage. In addition to being harmful to public health, the packaging for these two products is also difficult to recycle. In both the above cases, manufacturers use PVC needlessly. For example, Resolve Carpet Cleaner and Lysol Deodorizing Cleaner are sold in HDPE (#2) plastic.

Excessive packaging

5) EtherFast 10/100 CardBus PC Card - LINKSYS
Like most computer software and computer equipment on store shelves today, this PC card is over packaged. The box is 9 1/2 inches by 6 inches by 2 1/4 inches whereas once you peel away the foam wrapping, and see that a hollow plastic shell actually absorbs most of the space in the box, the actual product is only the size of two credit cards glued together. There is no reason why computer software can't be sold in smaller boxes.

6) Ban Roll-on Deodorant - Bristol Meyers
Look across a shelf of body care products and your eyes will meet with the shiny curves of deodorant containers...until you come upon the sharp corners of the Ban Roll-On deodorant box. The box is not needed. In fact, Bristol Meyers sells Ban Roll-On box-free.

Difficult to Recycle

7) Hood opaque milk bottles - HP Hood Hood started selling milk in opaque white bottles last year as a marketing ploy. Colored plastic, including white, has to be separated from translucent milk jugs at the recycling collection facility. Colored plastic has fewer post consumer uses and is therefore less lucrative than the traditional translucent milk jug.

No recycled content

8) Coke soda bottles - Coca-Cola Company
In 1990, the Coca-Cola Company promised to start making soda bottles sold in the United States with 25 percent recycled content. Now, nine years later, despite its "please recycle" message on the bottle, the company has still not lived up to its promise. Coke sells 20 million plastic soda bottles every day in the US. None of them has any recycled plastic.

Lifetime Wastemaker Achievement Awards

9) Oscar Meyer Lunchables
Small "Lunchable" servings of food are packaged in a segmented plastic tray covered with plastic wrap and an outer cardboard shell. This repeat Wastemaker won this award in both 1990 and 1992. Instead of cutting down on the packaging, they've added a new line of "Pizza Swirls". In addition to being over packaged, two thirds of this product's calories come from fat and sugar.

10) "Kool Aid Kool Bursts" - Kraft Foods Inc.
A repeat Wastemaker, the packaging for this product accounts for a huge increase in waste, and price, over the traditional "Kool Aid" product. A six pack of plastic bottles, encased in a cardboard holder and plastic shrink-wrap take the place of a single container of drink mix, to which sugar and water are added to produce the same product. More environmentally friendly kids can use reusable containers to carry their "Kool Aid". The cost of "Kool Bursts" for 40.5 fl. oz. is $2.09, while regular "Kool Aid" powder mix, that comes in a single container, costs $3.15 and makes 256 fl. oz. of juice.

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