Canadian Packaging

Too Much Of A Good Thing


December 14, 2009
by Andrew Joseph, Features Editor

Okay, I know it might seem stupid for a packaging guy to complain about too much packaging, but that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not pointed at the manufacturers of the packaging, but rather at the customer who requested it to be unnecessarily large.

Earlier this month, I finally decided to do something about placing a crystal clear shrink film over the breezy windows in my living room that shoot a cold breeze down my neck when I sit and watch television. I get the cold shoulder from a lot of people, why would I want a cold neck?

I purchased a LePage Roll-On kit for a Patio Door/X-Large Window. It was reasonably priced, in nice bright packaging and, if I recall correctly it had nice prominent shelf space at Canadian Tire‘s Yonge/Bloor location in downtown Toronto.

The product also worked well, was generally easy to apply, had decent instructions and came with everything I needed to make it work – even with a four-year-old attempting to help me. It’s a good product and everyone should purchase it if they need to insulate a window or door.

My issue is with its packaging.

Content-wise, there was a roll of film 2.13 meters x 2.84 meters (84-inches x 112-inches), a roll of tape with a glue activated by heat from a hairdryer (hairdryer not included), an illustrated set of instructions that was large enough to easily read, and a few individually-packaged alcohol wipes to clean the window surface and window edges where one needs to apply the tape.

And it all came packaged in a paperboard box 237 mm wide x 182 mm high x 55 mm deep (9-1/4” x 7-1/4” x ~2-1/4”), not including a flap for hanging the package onto store hooks. To the company’s credit, the carton was made from 100 per cent recycled fibers containing at least 35 per cent post-consumer waste.

But take a look at the photo. The container is three times the size of the products contained within it. I know shelf visibility is important, but come on… think about the waste of product used to manufacture it, and the cost that must obviously be passed down to the consumer.

Again, LePage might argue that its over-sized packaging is to get a larger position on the store shelves, and that it obviously worked because I purchased it—however, at least at this Canadian Tire, there was no other company offering a similar product, so in this instance, the point is moot.

Other instances where I feel too much packaging exists are the cookie, potato chip and breakfast cereals industries. I know, it’s done for our safety, to avoid product damage and for shelf visibility, but no matter what, it still looks like we are purchasing a lot of nothing with our products.

Somewhere, looks can be deceiving,
Andrew Joseph