What a waste! 10 times stores sent ridiculous packaging


Posts: 3,073   +97

If you do as much online shopping as we do, you've probably run into over-packaging before. You ordered something small and light, and it arrived at your house in a box large enough to store your entire wardrobe, with the Bubble Wrap to match. Or you ordered 10 things, that all came in 10 boxes.

Overused packaging isn't just frustrating, it's creating a big problem. Packaging materials make up more than 40% of the solid waste stream in the United States, according to Packaging Digest (a trade publication for packaging producers, ironically). Most of that ends up in a landfill.

We all know the drill: Reduce, reuse, recycle. But why aren't our favorite online retailers on board? We found 10 crazy examples of ridiculous packaging that prove it's time for those retailers to rethink how products are shipped.

nate bolt/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The nesting SD card

It started out in life as an SD card. Then it got shoved into a plastic protective case. Then the plastic protective case got its own plastic clamshell cover. And then it finally arrived to the consumer in a massive box complete with a seemingly endless roll of wrapping paper. Maybe nesting SD cards are the new collectors' item?

Andrew Mason/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Maybe Amazon thought it was a real car?

Our second example appears to be a small toy car set made for children. These sets are typically lightweight and come in very small boxes (because we all know parents live to assemble), but the toy was shipped in a box large enough to fit a small car. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration, but the box and packing materials are way more than needed.

Orde Saunders/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (Cropped)

Or maybe it's nesting boxes?

In our next example, we can place the blame squarely on the retailer. This Flickr user ordered a new smartphone (you know, those fancy, streamlined, thin-as-a-piece-of-paper things you can fit in your pocket?). The phone was packaged neatly in a tiny box, which was put into a slightly larger box, which was then put into a huge box.

Kristina D.C. Hoeppner/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) (Cropped)

The SD cards are back

Maybe the real lesson here is to never order an SD card online unless you need a huge box for moving. Here's another example of a small, lightweight SD card being shipped in a box big enough to cover almost an entire desk.


How many air bags does it take to keep a ruler safe?

We count 20. A customer ordered a single ruler off of Amazon. The ruler does fit lengthwise in the bottom of the box, and technically the 20 pieces of protective packaging fit too. We're just not sure they were needed.


Don't play with knives, kids

Knives should probably be packaged pretty securely, even if they're plastic, but this might be over the top. Each paring knife was wrapped in protective cardboard and placed in its own box. Then the three boxes were placed in another even larger box and wrapped with air cushions. Possibly overkill?


Sometimes it isn't the size of the box

One of our biggest gripes? Not just getting too large a box, but getting too many. Case in point: This plastic container of maple syrup was shipped separately from the rest of the order. With plenty of space in that huge box, it looks like the items could have been shipped together.


Organizing your organizers

Maybe Sears knew this customer was pro-organization? The person did buy socket organizers, after all. Perhaps the company was just trying to show off its skills to a fellow enthusiast by packing each organizer neatly in its own box?


A tranquil sea of bubbles

We're not sure what is going on here. The item is clearly unprotected on one side, but oh-so-protected on the other. In fact, there is so much inflatable packaging perfectly in place, it is almost peaceful to look at. If only all that plastic wasn't going to waste.

Padding for your padding

How do you ship padded envelopes? With even more padding, of course. This customer ordered a set of padded mailers, which were placed in a box, wrapped with inflatable packaging, and then placed in another box. If only a padded envelope had a way of protecting itself.

What other examples of ridiculous packaging do you have to share? Let us know in the comments!

Angela Colley is a contributing writer at dealnews. Republished with permission.

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Posts: 19   +5
Sometimes when you place an order for several items with a company like Amazon, you will receive multiple boxes due to the simple fact that the items you ordered were not all stored in the same warehouse. You should not expect the company to ship your ordered items from multiple warehouses to one central location just to be able to ship them all to you in one convenient box. That would be cost prohibitive for them and ridiculous. Luckily where I live, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items are picked up curbside where they are processed and sold at a profit for the county.

Raoul Duke

Definitely had a few items with massive overpacking. Sadly on some of the small items that came in large boxes, you would think they would put padding in, the item in the middle and then padding all around. No way, They put it on the bottom (so no cushioning whatever) and then fill the entire rest of the box with padding.


Posts: 371   +110
Great article. Amazon should be embarrassed. However, at least they often send me a questionnaire after delivery asking me about the adequacy of the packaging for specific orders.

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
I got a flash drive from Amazon at Christmas time that came in a box that was roughly 2' square, filled with those little inflatable bags and the invoice. Oh yeah, the flash drive was cracked, probably from bending before it was packed but that invoice was PERFECTLY protected!


Posts: 79   +29
Well, all we can do is point out the hypocrisy and hope for results..

For instance, us tobacco users (I know, it's bad, lol) are/were often barraged with packages with ridiculous amounts of cardboard and paper used to illustrate the said company's latest and greatest ad campaign. It really was quite awe-inspiring -- intricately made structures that fold out dynamically to display the new gimmick, resulting in massive amounts of paper products heading straight to my recycling bin without a glance once I located where they cleverly hid the coupons.

People complained and several companies (RJR and PM, at least) vowed to make better efforts to reduce excessive resources used in shipped promotions. Now, I still get silly little flip books with pictures of trendy-looking people doing the things you most often see explained with hashtags ( ##YOLO!!!), but the actual amount of paper going into the promotions has been reduced by easily 90%.

When it comes to Amazon, I suspect a huge amount of it has to do with their overall popularity and avoiding increased labor costs. They have such a huge chunk of the market, and are raking in ridiculous levels of profit, and the cost of their packaging is the absolute least of their concerns (why they offer it to marketplace retailers for free or next-to-nothing). Once their market-share levels out and their profit margins tighten up, they'll likely see excessive packaging as a source of excess expenses. Additionally as I am sure most of their warehouse employees are under-paid and under-intelligent, the concentration on their end has been to just package things ridiculously overboard, as they really don't care about the cost to the company and don't want to take the mental effort necessary to package more efficiently. If better paid/trained workers are necessary to reduce package waste, are consumers really ready to pay /more/ to be more ecologically friendly..? Not yet, at least..

In summation, I will say over-packaging is a lot better than under-packaging.. I recall 4 years ago when I purchased a black friday tv deal from Amazon, and received 3 subsequent 47in tv's in their retail packing with large holes straight through the packaging shattering the tv screen, before finally receiving one that magically survived shipment.


Posts: 324   +165
What the... ? That doesn't happen here in Spain. I buy on Amazon.es and they always use the smallest packaging possible. I've received microSD cards in a damn cardboard envelope!. They don't even use bubblewrap.


They do this for efficiency. Fewer box sizes = easier automation and faster human packaging = lower costs.


Posts: 12,688   +6,051
They do this for efficiency. Fewer box sizes = easier automation and faster human packaging = lower costs.
Yeah at the cost of inefficient shipping. Instead of one truck ten trucks will be needed, but yeah they saved money in packaging everything. So now the cost of shipping is probably much greater than the savings in packaging.


Posts: 16,496   +5,304
I can't wait until they raise the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. Wow wee, then you'll see some serious over packing! :eek: