10 Absolutely Pathetic Packaging Fails

Image: redjar

The UK alone produces 400 million tonnes of waste each year, most of which ends up festering in landfill sites. Packaging (mainly plastics, paper, glass and aluminium) makes up a large chunk of this waste, but so much of it used these days is unnecessary.

With climate change now a priority for so many, it’s perhaps surprising that the amount of packaging used each year is on the rise. A preoccupation with cleanliness, however, is fuelling ever-greater demand for packaged food products and other goods. While wrapping meat, for example, demonstrates good hygiene, packaging individual bananas and dried fruits is clearly insane!

Most are not isolated incidents, but evidence of the systemic overuse of packaging materials by many of the biggest multinationals. Above all, over-packaging is an environmental problem, but lest we forget it’s the consumer who must pay for its disposal and spending 15 minutes needlessly unwrapping a tiny item is unbelievably frustrating! Below you’ll find 10 examples of packaging gone mad.

1. Bananas

Image: Scrapthispack

The only thing that’s bananas about these bananas is the ridiculous way in which they’ve been packaged. The best thing about a banana is that it comes with its own biodegradable shrink-wrapping, so why on Earth would anyone want to wrap each one again in plastic and polystyrene?

2. Sunsweet Prunes

Image: 365 Healthy Eats

In case you didn’t already know, a prune is a dried fruit. Yes, that’s right, it’s a fruit devoid of moisture, meaning it takes absolutely ages to go off! Packaging individual prunes is not only a complete waste of plastic and time (both for the wrapper and the un-wrapper), it’s a waste of money too.

3. Memory Card

Image: Boltron

Order a new memory card off the internet and you expect it to arrive in a nice, little envelope, padded for protection. You certainly don’t expect it come in a 4ft long cardboard box, surrounded by wrapping paper, as if it were a priceless artefact … or a landmine.

4. Roses

Image: TimShoesUntied

I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something very sad about this image. Perhaps it’s that these plastic-smothered roses are unable to share their beauty and scent with the world; or maybe it’s that the image symbolises the oppression of nature by manmade materials. Either way, it’s a ridiculous use of packaging!

5. 2GB Flash Drive

Image: Consumerist (bottom image)

Imagine the excitement you’d experience if the postman greeted you one morning with this enormous Dell box. You’d think you’d been sent a new laptop by mistake, or at least an external hard drive! No, it’s just that 2GB flash drive you ordered last week, dwarfed by its enormous box.

6. Power Cord

Image: Technabob

Without doubt, this is one of the most absurd examples of over-packaging we’ve ever seen. Not only has this power cord been shipped by HP in a box fit for a fridge, it’s been sent on a 10kg wooden pallet.

7. 32 Sheets of Paper

Image: The Register

HP is to blame, yet again, for this woeful waste of cardboard. The order: 16 software licenses. The packaging: 17 boxes – one massive box with 16 smaller ones inside, each containing 2 measly pieces of paper.

8. Mouse

Image: The Register

This mouse completes our HP trilogy of waste. Note the lengths (and expense, no doubt) that HP has gone to, to ensure this mouse, an item measuring no more than 12cm in length, arrives in one piece. Not only is it packaged in its own box, which provides quite sufficient protection in itself, but it’s bound to a wooden pallet by a plastic sheet.

9. Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade

Image: Microsoft

Unfortunately for software manufacturers, their products are often very tiny and very dull to look at. To make up for this, such companies tend to package their goods in massive, brightly coloured boxes in an attempt to attract the eyes of consumers. The Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade, for example, is nothing more than a serial code in a big shiny box. It does come with a CD as well, but you don’t really need that either.

10. Apple DisplayPort Adaptor

Image: Gizmodo

When it comes to overpackaging, and despite their best efforts, Apple can be every bit as wasteful Microsoft. Note the size of the box they use to ship their Mini-DiplayPort-to-DVI adapter in. It’s bigger than the MacBook’s!

About the author:

Tom is a freelance writer, living and working in North London. Fascinated by art, design and gadgets, he spends much of his time writing and blogging on these subjects. His other interests lie in music, film, fashion, football and generally enjoying life!

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  • User Gravatar Peter
    October 21st, 2009 at 10:42 am

    A good, bad list… if you get my drift:)

  • User Gravatar Lauren
    October 21st, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Though the roses look particularly sad, I can at least understand that they are very delicate and might need that sort of protection for long distance travel or what-not. The HP stuff is both appalling and hilarious, not really in a good way!

  • User Gravatar Jill Bratcher
    October 21st, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    QVC and Office Depot are just as bad.

    From QVC I received two packs of Star Trek collector cards (total space of one is 3″widex4″longx3″deep), each in a 6″x9″x4″ box full of styrofoam peanuts; both of THOSE boxes were together inside a 11″x19″x7″deep larger box, also with more peanuts. Then I received two comforters (package measured about 20″x20″x10-12″deep), each in their own 21″-cubed box; they charged me $8+ to ship one of them and double that for the other one. I was able to ship both back in one box when I returned them.

    We get packages from Office Depot via UPS with our office/kitchen supplies. Sometimes we get three boxes when the items could have fit into one. They will send one printer cartridge in a box the size of the one those two Star Trek card packs came in with gobs of “airpacks” in them.

    Columbia House is the most efficient shipper; their packaging is sturdy enough to protect the DVDs but there’s no extra space/filler. Amazon does *pretty* well about not oversizing the box/adding lots of filler.

  • User Gravatar Raine
    October 21st, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    I work in a lab and I wish I could show you the nonsense packaging we receive daily. Mostly from fisher scientific, but all the other companies as well. It is terrible.

  • User Gravatar Barry
    October 21st, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Ah, good ol’ HP. I used to work for them in their server factory. Because of “standardized packaging processes” we were always putting small things in big boxes. None of those pictures of HP packages surprised me.

  • User Gravatar christina chicago usa
    October 23rd, 2009 at 6:45 am

    gee i sorta wish i could get one of those pallets. kidding aside,
    who pays for the shipping of all that excess waste? what does a pallet weigh these days?
    it could be fun and useful if there was a clearing house/website with info or links to company HQ in order to protest this sort of crap. i just am grateful that bananas are sold “au naturel” here because i complain to the produce guy often enough as is.


  • User Gravatar Petelite
    October 23rd, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    The more packaging the better! This is how my housemate and I heat our house.

  • User Gravatar Robin Kirk, CPP
    November 6th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    you are very ignorant of the principlas of packging design and why the products you ahve shown needed the packaging used to survive the shipping environmnet and abuse in order to arrive as sweet as a rose and as juicy as a “not complemetly dried” fruit.

    maybe you should do some research before you share your observations. Not understaning production and processes rquired by industry really shows in most of your comments.

  • User Gravatar tim
    December 14th, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    I used to work in distribution and a lot of times the reason we would ship small items in large boxes had nothing to do with being stupid or wasteful. In fact, all of the over sized boxes that we used for smaller items had already been used for another shipment (returns, repackaging etc.). So 90% of the time we are already using recycled material instead of wasting money and buying both big boxes and small boxes.. but the bananas… I’m not really sure what the hell is going on there.

  • User Gravatar john
    December 16th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    While I can agree with you on almost all of these, the roses are packaged in this manner for a number of reasons; the thick cardboard wrapper is to insulate the roses, the bottoms of which are stored in ice, wrapped in newspaper. The cuffs you see around the individual buds prevent them from bruising during transport.
    The next time that you decide to play the romantic part and send for a dozen roses for your sweetheart, consider just how much of a pain it is to get those ludicrously delicate little flowers all wired up and preened for show.

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