The Star asked readers as part of our Beat the Wrap campaign to send us photographs of their packaging gripes and dozens of you responded. You sent in pictures of skin cream, kitchen cloths, vitamins and environmentally friendly products wrapped in extensive packaging. We chose a representative sample and asked the manufacturers for an explanation.
PRODUCT: L'ORÉAL REVITALIFT SKIN CREAM
Mel Goddard wrote: "As you can see, the package is rather over-large for the size of the jar. One could argue, perhaps successfully, that this style of packaging is used to deter theft ... but good lord, can no one come up with a better way?"
L'Oréal Paris response: "A package is part of the product itself, fulfilling multiple functions such as enabling safe transport of the product from the moment it leaves the factory, throughout its journey to the consumer and eventual disposal; and thus acts as protection from external conditions (light, oxidation, steam, etc.).
"Your reader will be happy to know that the Revitalift product packaging has already been planned to be reduced before the end of 2009.
PRODUCT: BIO-VERT DISHWASHER TABLETS
Denise Benning-Reid wrote: "When I opened the tub I was frustrated to find the tablets were each individually wrapped in plastic and then needlessly packed in larger plastic bags. How environmentally friendly can that be?"
Bio-Vert response: "The tabs are soluble in high humidity. This is what happens when you eliminate phosphate in this kind of product. This is why we had to double the wrapping, single wrap for tab and one wrap to protect the whole packaging.
"We decided to launch our green dish tabs last year as we felt that it was better for the environment to offer a solution to blue algaes right away and protect our lakes. However, we knew we had to improve our packaging ... Our coming solution, to present to buyers of major retailers in September 2009, is a water-soluble wrap for the tablet and no additional wrapping."
PRODUCT: NATUREGG ORGANIC EGGS
Franke James wrote: "The packaging that really irritates me is organic eggs (free range) in plastic cartons. The ... eggs are healthier for humans than the alternative, but why do they have to package them in nonrecyclable plastic? Why don't they use recyclable cardboard?"
Burnbrae Farms response: "The carton to this day is and always has been made from post-consumer plastic and ... we currently pay and have always paid a premium to have high-grade PET (recycled polyethylene) that can be recycled. The (municipal recycling) depots just need to commit to separating them from the waste stream along with the pop bottles." (Toronto currently does not separate plastic egg containers from the other clamshell food containers that are made of different plastic.)
As for not using fibre, they explained: "We were marketing a product that required a nutrition facts panel and that people did not understand, so we needed to explain about feeding the chickens flaxseed to get the omega-3 into the eggs. There was no space on the fibre carton available at the time.
The only alternative was foam, but it was neither recyclable nor made from post-consumer recycled materials, so this was not of interest to the company."
PRODUCT: LOBLAW PRESIDENT'S CHOICE BRAND ORGANIC LETTUCE, SPINACH
Michele Gare wrote: "I think it's great that Loblaw wants to promote being good to the environment and making responsible choices and I prefer to buy organic whenever I can. Ever since they introduced these huge, plastic boxes (that are nonrecyclable in Toronto) ... I just can't seem to justify the trade-off. I'm buying organic to preserve the Earth and be healthy but at the same time have to discard the packaging into landfill ... I now buy my produce somewhere else 90 per cent of the time as they have it out loosely or in bags that can be recycled."
Loblaw response: The company refused to comment on the specific plastic packaging. Instead, it referred the Star to its 2007 Corporate Social Responsibility report, which said the company planned to "divert 70 per cent average overall waste generated by our stores from landfill in fourth quarter 2008."
PRODUCT: OSRAM SYLVANIA COMPACT FLUORESCENT BULBS
Jill Silk wrote: "Plastic wrap packaging outrages me. It is the plastic wrap packaging containing the new 'light bulbs' that we are encouraged to use to reduce energy consumption!"
Osram Sylvania response: "We are packaging many of our new CFL products using the Sylvania Smart Pack – recycled paperboard packaging with no plastic ... Smart Pack packaging has resulted in 40 per cent reduction of materials and 30 per cent reduction in transportation-related air pollution since we can ship more efficiently and reduce our shipping needs.
"Virtually all of our light bulb packaging is recyclable and contains between 30 per cent and 100 per cent post-consumer recycled fibres."