Wasteful and Frustrating Packaging Designs.

As packaging designers we are constantly out-standed by the level of nonchalance which is applied to some packaging solutions. These examples illustrate not only poor packaging design but a complete lack of the care and attention which should go into package design. With just a little thought, all of these could have been better executed, been less wasteful and more sustainable.

Having said that, it is a little known fact that packaging makes up less than 3% of all waste sent to landfill. Approx. 60% of packaging from industry and households is recovered and recycled. It is a fact that the UK uses less packaging per person than most other large European Union (EU) countries. Despite these facts there is a general belief that there is still just too much over packaging.

There are many arguments for and against packaging, for example, it has been said that a special trip by car to deliver packaging for recycling has more impact on the environment by way of petrol or diesel fuel used and this greatly outweighs anything saved by recycling. But the simple fact is, even if packaging waste only contributes 3% to landfill, is much of this still totally unnecessary.

Clamshell packaging. An example of bad packaging design.

Clamshell Packaging

Dangerous and Frustating Packaging Design

Terrible packaging designs aren’t just a bane on the planet, they can be dangerous when impossible to extract with bare hands. Around six thousand people a year wind up in emergency rooms with lacerations and puncture wounds caused by obnoxious clamshell/oyster-style packaging, the type that require scissors, pocket knives and other sharp implements before opening. Some attempts at grappling with knives and scissors have led to amputated fingertips and severed tendons. The degree of injuries can be pretty severe, depending on the frustration of getting a package open.


Oversized Carton for Delivery

Millions (billions!) of items are wastefully packaged.

So, what does it matter if you get an extra big cardboard box for your delivery, as was the case with this small carton of ink in a huge box? Stop and think about how many millions (billions!) of items are wastefully packaged. These almost-empty big boxes take up more space than necessary in shipping trucks, forcing them to make more trips for the same amount of cargo. Amazon is a big company and overpackaging is common, it all adds up to a huge waste of materials, space and fossil fuels that could easily be avoided without much negative consequence.

Over Packaged Banana Packaging

Excessive Packaging

Wastefully Poor Packaging Design.

Poor packaging design and ridiculous examples of wasteful packaging come in all shapes and sizes, but it doesn’t get much worse than these individually-wrapped bananas, complete with plastic shrink-wrap and (non-biodegradable) polystyrene, spied in a U.K. grocery store.

Pointless clamshell packaging of a cauliflower

Pointless Over-Packaging

Why, Why, Why?

Most packaging performs a function…. we are in awe of the creator of this packaging and still asking the question why? This packaging is totally pointless and wasteful. Of all the vegetables out there that may need a little extra packaging to survive transit, therefore avoiding waste…is the robust cauliflower really one of them?





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