Waste, waste, waste. That’s almost all you ever hear people talking about on the streets and in cafes. Whether it’s wanting to eliminate the use of plastic by replacing straws with pasta in Italy or coming up with new ways to recycle bottles, there are all sorts of small steps that we can take to make Planet Earth a cleaner, healthier, greener place to live on.
However, one area where some but not enough progress has been made is in the packaging of certain products. It is mind-boggling how much packaging can be used for even the tiniest things. All to make them look attractive and make us want to buy them. There’s so much packaging that you could almost build a fort out of the trash!
To show you just what we mean, Bored Panda has collected some of the most egregious examples of unnecessary packaging found in the dark corners of the internet. So scroll down and upvote the pics that make you fear for the future of the world. Send your pals the link to this list so that they realize what a big problem this is as well. And share any ideas for possible solutions to the waste crisis in the comments.
Scroll down for Bored Panda's four interviews on the topic with experts, including with Greenpeace's Graham Forbes, the Global Project Leader for the Plastic-Free-Future.
“For years, companies have sold people on disability — the notion that we can use something once, for a few minutes, then simply throw it away,” Forbes explained. “The problem is, we know now that there is no such thing as ‘away.’ Less than 10 percent of the plastic ever made has actually been recycled, with the vast majority ending up in our oceans, landfills, or incinerated — polluting communities around the globe.” Scroll down for the full in-depth interview.
Forbes from Greenpeace continued: “Companies are still stuck in this outdated business model that uses unnecessary packaging and puts the onus on the consumer to clean it up. It is up to all of us to demand accountability from these companies that continue to churn out throwaway plastic. It's time to demand systems of reuse rather than polluting throwaway packaging.”
Some British supermarkets take the packaging waste problem very seriously. For example, Waitrose has impressed its environmentally-conscious shoppers by offering them the possibility of buying food and drink without any packaging.
That means that customers can fill their own containers with a whole range of Waitrose products, such as rice, cleaning materials, wine, beer, etc. from various dispensers. This not only helps the environment but is good for your wallet as well because product prices drop by around a seventh as a result. Of course, this means that we won’t get to build any forts with all the unnecessary packaging. But some sacrifices must be made for the greater good.
“By utilizing reusable bottles, bags, or containers, we can start to build the systems that we want to see from large companies. Ultimately, large-scale systemic change will depend on companies like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo changing their business models to reject throwaway plastic packaging. By rejecting throwaway culture, we can move them in a better direction quickly,” Forbes said, adding that those readers who want to learn more can read Greenpeace’s reports here and here.
Bored Panda also talked to Kara Pochiro of the Association of Plastic Recyclers about the topic. According to Pochiro, “packaging often has a variety of uses that the general consumer does not realize such as protection and preservation.”
“If consumers purchase products and packaging made with recycled content, this will encourage companies to use more recycled content, can boost demand for that material, and increase recycling rates,” Pochiro explained, suggesting that customers recycle and conserve to help the environment. “Consumers play a big role in the success of recycling programs. They need to recycle and buy products and packaging made with recycled content.”
Back in 2018, more than 40 British companies, including the UK’s largest supermarkets, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and others, vowed to cut plastic use within 7 years.
Reuters notes that these companies promised to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging in the UK by 2025. There’s still a long way to go until then (unless you’re reading this in 2025, in which case, hello, future Pandas!) and this is just one country. But it’s a strong start.
Andrew Almack, the CEO of Plastics for Change, had this to say to Bored Panda: “Removing unnecessary plastic requires companies to redefine their supply chain. They have to do RnD while keeping in mind challenges like the visual appeal of product packaging, the durability of alternatives, sustained supply of alternatives, costing and manufacturing.”
According to Almack, customers are a ‘force’ that can bring about change in the market. “It is important for customers to purchase and use products made by businesses that focus on sustainability. When people start buying from eco-friendly businesses, the demand for such good would increase and ignite other players to cater to this trend which could be done by a simple change in current company policies.”
He continued: “Being more conscious about our throwaway culture is where one should surely start. Simple changes to eliminate single-use plastic go a long way: avoid gum and plasticware, reuse storage containers and use razors with replaceable blades.”
Furthermore, Bored Panda interviewed a spokesperson from the Alliance to End Plastic Waste: “Everyone agrees: plastic waste does not belong in our oceans, or anywhere in the environment. And despite the many benefits of plastic to health, safety, sustainability and convenience, plastic waste has become a challenge in parts of the world because it is not managed properly.”
The spokesperson went on to say that “to help address the challenge in a globally coordinated and transformative way, over 40 companies around the world, from across the plastics value chain – companies that make, use, sell, process, collect and recycle plastics – have joined together with a clear mission: to help end plastic waste in the environment.”
They continued: “The Alliance to End Plastic Waste has pledged 1.5 billion dollars over the next five years to develop, accelerate and bring to scale solutions to minimize and manage plastic waste, catalyze investment, engage communities and promote solutions including reducing, reusing, recovering, and recycling materials. Alliance efforts will be implemented in a coordinated way with support and resources from both the public and private sectors, facilitating comprehensive, meaningful and lasting change that will help end plastic waste in the environment.”