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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!