Media Releases | 3rd Nov, 2004

Consumers ripped off by product packaging

Wednesday, 3 November 2004

A damaging environmental legacy is being created by wasteful packaging from household products with cosmetics and confectionary among the worst offenders, Australia’s leading green groups have warned.

The green groups made the warning at the inaugural launch of the annual DUMP Awards, which expose damaging and useless packaging.

Judged by an expert panel, the Gold DUMP Award went to Schick’s “Intuition” Lady’s Razor, which was singled out for its complex, multilayered plastic package. The Excessive Packaging Award went to Dove Cleansing Pillows, which included foil-sealed plastic containers wrapped in cling film plus a cardboard cover. The Regressive Award went to M&Ms Snap & Share, which had tough, moulded multi-packs of non-recyclable plastic.

The Awards follow a two-month study and highlight a booming trend to sell products wrapped in large amounts of environmentally-unfriendly packaging.

Environment Victoria’s Zero Waste campaigner, Jenny Henty, said over- packaging was spiraling out of control: “Much of the waste from packaging gets buried in landfill, causing environmental problems such as water pollution, air pollution and loss of open space,” said Ms Henty.

“The stand-out horrors from the DUMP awards are those that excessively use all the wrong materials. It’s a ridiculous situation where a lady’s shaver is wrapped in multiple materials and marshmallows are individually wrapped. It takes a second to eat the marshmallow but centuries for that wrapping to break down.”

ACF Sustainability campaigner, Suzie Brown, said useless packaging was a luxury consumers and the environment couldn’t afford: “It’s a total waste of resources and money – many manufacturers charge more for products that are excessively packaged. Consumers are being ripped off,” said Ms Brown.

“Some companies make a reasonable attempt to minimise packaging and its environmental impact but there are others who totally disregard it. Consumers should use their purchasing power to show those manufacturers they won’t tolerate this waste. Don’t buy products that are obviously over-packaged or non-recyclable.”

Total Environment Centre executive director Jeff Angel said governments needed to enforce better packaging standards, as the current voluntary National Packaging Covenant is an embarrassing failure: “We blame governments for being soft on industry. The Covenant should be dumped and replaced with strict regulations,” he said.