Coles receives “award” for least environmentally-friendly packaging

Posted by James Ferre on 2nd March 2009

Everyday supermarket items including Coles pre-packed lemons, Kids Care fruit snacks and Dynamo laundry refill packs have received awards no company should aspire to – Environment Victoria’s 2009 National DUMP Awards. The awards are given for the “use of damaging and useless packaging”.

National retailer Coles received the ‘Golden DUMP’ (Damaging and Useless Materials in Packaging) Award for their 5 Pack of Lemons wrapped in unrecyclable and unnecessary plastic packaging.

Fraser Brindley, Environment Victoria spokesperson, said the awards aimed to reduce waste going in to landfill by informing the public about bad packaging practices and by pressuring manufacturers to improve their packaging design.

“On average, each Australian produces a staggering 200kg of packaging waste each year, with 44 per cent of this packaging, nearly 1.9 million tonnes annually, being buried in landfill. That’s enough waste to fill nine MCGs each year,” he said. “Most packaging is used once and then discarded. If this packaging is sent to landfill then all of the energy and water that goes into making it is lost and it becomes a source of greenhouse gas as it decomposes. This represents an enormous waste and Environment Victoria is calling on manufactures to change their practices and for State and Federal governments to put a ban on non-recyclable packaging.”

Now in its fifth year, the National DUMP Awards were judged with the assistance of an independent expert panel of academics and waste consultants. Products short-listed for the DUMP Awards were run through a rigorous packaging evaluation process by RMIT’s Centre for Design.

Associate Professor Ralph Horne, Director of RMIT’s Centre for Design and DUMP Awards judge, said the Coles pack of five lemons was a clear example of unnecessary packaging.

“Fruit has its own natural packaging and can be used as a stand alone product. But Coles has placed five lemons in a flexible tray, which is then enclosed in a flexible wrap. The package is totally unnecessary and unrecyclable,” he claimed.

Kids Care Fruit Smash satchels were the winner of the Going Backwards DUMP Award and Dynamo 4 in 1 laundry detergent refill was the winner of the Poorly Designed for Recycling category.

Mr Brindley said for the first time, Environment Victoria had also presented the KEEP Awards to acknowledge the progress made by some companies in environmentally-friendly packaging.

“The winner of the Golden KEEP Award, and the Going Forwards award, was Jarrah’s instant coffee. Jarrah has improved their packaging by changing it to a fully recyclable single plastic jar. Glass jars have a far higher environmental impact so the move to fully recyclable plastic coffee containers is a good one,” he explained. “The DUMP Awards are very effective in encouraging manufactures to change their packaging practices and are keenly watched by industry and government.”