04 January 2022

Superfluous packaging: the packaging avalanche pouring into the waste bin

In the aftermath of the Holidays, we know for sure that the most received gifts were parcels, external packaging, additional packaging and everything “necessary" to keep the contents intact. Overpackaging is the triumph of single use: an increasingly accentuated phenomenon which has reached senseless usage paradoxes.

 

xmas gifts overpackaging
xmas gifts overpackaging

Apart from being in the top ten of the most popular Christmas gifts, have you ever wondered what ultra-flat televisions, shoes, consoles, perfumes and household products have in common? Simple: the unrestrained waste of overpackaging in the way they are packed.

Now probably, after days of compulsive unwrapping, their boxes lie next to overflowing garbage cans with the gift-wrapping paper, stickers and bows still attached.

Apart from being in the top ten of the most popular Christmas gifts, have you ever wondered what ultra-flat televisions, shoes, consoles, perfumes and household products have in common? Simple: the unrestrained waste of overpackaging in the way they are packed.

Now probably, after days of compulsive unwrapping, their boxes lie next to overflowing garbage cans with the gift-wrapping paper, stickers and bows still attached.

 

But if it were just a Christmas-related exception, after all, the consequences would be limited. The problem is that their presence is rampant in supermarkets, between shelves and refrigerators topped with completely unnecessary and avoidable packaging.

A large part of the responsibility for all this waste lies with companies and producers. Not only those who produce packaging, but also those who procure it to complete the efficiency of their production chain.

It is time for a more informed packaging policy. Eco-design has the duty to eliminate secondary packaging as much as possible, in the food sector as well as in all other production segments.

Shopping emergency: for every pound weight purchased, double that is plastic waste

 

supermercati overpackaging

Let's face it: once we return from the supermarket and unpack the shopping, 1/3 of the loot ends up in the fridge, freezer and pantry, while the remaining 2/3 of the load goes directly from the trunk to the waste sorting bins.

Properly disposing of waste is important, but how much easier would it be if we weren't submerged in single-portion polystyrene trays, layers and layers of useless clingfilm, secondary cardboard boxes for non-compostable coffee pods and bags of all kinds?

The toothpaste box, for example, is only useful for flying into the dustbin in record time. Not to mention the secondary lids of yoghurts, the juice boxes with the plastic spout that is impossible to remove, or the cheeses wrapped in a double layer of plastic and placed on a tray three times larger than the product.

In addition to the problem of door-to-door collection, that of the overpackaging by superstores is a problem of habit. What determines a purchase is often laziness, that unjustified haste that makes us prefer two packaged and pre-weighed bananas to loose ones.

And the problem is ours but also of those who encourage this approach, placing mountains of unsustainable and polluting packaging on the market. The real challenge of the brands must not be to offer “time-saving” eggs, precooked, shelled and well packaged. But, on the contrary, to eliminate what is unnecessary.

 

Excessive packaging: la sproporzione tra contenuto e contenitore

If in the points of sale we have to deal with the excessive use of packaging, in online purchases the scope of the overpackaging reaches even more unthinkable heights.

The reason is very simple: producing boxes in series, with the same dimensions and the same die, has significantly lower costs than a tailor-made production in different sizes.

And who minds if the disproportionate size of that container requires exaggerated quantities of filling to protect the product? To put it in a nutshell: about 95% of the packaging’s value evaporates after the first use.

overpackaging e-commerce
overpackaging e-commerce

 

Customising boxes is certainly not synonymous with savings, but it is the only way to deliver orders responsibly. A package that is oversized in relation to the items it contains, unnecessarily takes up more space on the truck, creates avoidable waste and massively affects carbon dioxide emissions determined by the weight of its transport.

Where companies have the task of producing more and more tailor-made items, as individuals, we can change our habits (without major jolts): by combining purchases, for example, and avoiding ordering one pack of batteries at a time.

Thanks to small efforts, we have big (and sustainable) results in return.

 

The role of companies and the decisive link in the production chain: packaging

Let’s avoid any objection: before any ethical-environmental reasoning, it is true, we need to measure the safety and protection of the product that is placed on the market.

Producers, processors, importers, traders and consumers all contribute to maintaining the value and integrity of the materials for as long as possible. In a nutshell, food packaging must ensure freshness and tackle the deterioration of its product; a cosmetic container must preserve the formula of detergents, masks, conditioners, creams and so on.

Once the safety requirements have been implemented, however, there is another aspect that determines the absolute value of the product, and it is the choice of natural and recyclable materials to package it.

It goes without saying: the protection of people must also and above all safeguard their habitat.

 

Our case history: change comes through actions

For Oway, GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices) cannot ignore some fundamental points: the elimination of plastic, the choice of glass and aluminium as 100% and infinitely recyclable alternatives and the abolition of secondary and superfluous packaging.

The glass bottles and aluminium tubes of the Oway agricosmetics are safe, protective and resistant packaging, which do not require the addition of any unnecessary boxes or packages.

Their caps are made of fully recyclable aluminium and allow the interchangeability and reuse of the dispensers, thus avoiding the stockpile and disposal of too many dispensers.

And e-commerce boxes?

scatole Oway e-commerce
scatole Oway e-commerce

Try to think about how many times companies tell us - using the language of greenwashing - that they are careful and pay attention to creating eco-friendly products, to then deliver them in packs with an unjustified volume and packaging. Maybe by using low-cost materials (and unfortunately… highly polluting ones).

The Oway boxes are made of 100% recycled paper and cardboard whose dimensions are consistent with their content, in order to eliminate the need for overpackaging.

Try to think about how many times companies tell us - using the language of greenwashing - that they are careful and pay attention to creating eco-friendly products, to then deliver them in packs with an unjustified volume and packaging. Maybe by using low-cost materials (and unfortunately… highly polluting ones).

The Oway boxes are made of 100% recycled paper and cardboard whose dimensions are consistent with their content, in order to eliminate the need for overpackaging.

 

As a carbon neutral company, and in accordance with the principles of circular agricosmetics, we have optimised all our production processes and compensated for the inevitable excess of CO2 caused by transport. But if there is a way to contain the “impact” on the world of deliveries, it is to design the boxes according to a responsible and conscious logic.

And continually calling ourselves into question: which is the only prerequisite for improving our footprint on the planet.

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