A few weeks back, I posted an entry about a particular cosmetic company whose excessive packaging had caught my attention. In the final paragraph, I suggested that we needed to contact companies like that and let them know we were not happy about their seemingly wanton use of unnecessary resources. When I was done posting, I went to their website and I did just that - I wrote to them and told them how I felt about their packages. As I recall, it was almost word for word the suggested statement from my entry. Since I don’t like spam any more than I like paper junk mail, I used an email I don’t check very often. After that, my computer crashed and I frankly forgot all about writing to them. I checked that email just now and found that I had actually received a response within a few days, so I thought I would share it:
Thanks for contacting Ol*y about the packaging of Reg*nerist products.
P&G is committed to ensuring our products, packaging, and operations are safe for consumers and the environment. The plastic packaging is recyclable if there is a recycler in your area that takes that type of plastic. The type of plastic varies with the Reg*nerist product, but two common plastics are:
HDPE 1 (100% high density polyethylene plastic)
HDPE 5 (100% high density polyethylene plastic)
For products that go out with the trash, our approach is to reduce, reuse, recycle, compost, or incinerate waste (with energy recovered) prior to land filling, wherever it’s environmentally and economically appropriate.
We’re continually researching alternatives for more environmentally improved products and packaging. For more information about what P&G is doing to achieve this, please visit http://www.pg.com/sr
Thanks again for writing.
Now, that all sounds well and good, but it doesn’t really explain why they use so much packaging, does it? If they are so committed to the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), why are they not Reducing the amount of packaging? Yes, it is wonderful that they are helping underprivileged children, and improving drinking water…but what does that have to do with the size of a package for wrinkle cream?
In the 105 page sustainability “report” they offer at that link, they actually say “we find ways to [use] less raw material for packaging.” Perhaps with other products that is true, but the cosmetics to which I previously referred do not even remotely appear to bear that out. Their other products, by contrast, mostly seem to need some packaging, while the cosmetics really do not appear to, in most cases.
Additionally, the report is light on hard data. Percentages are supplied, but without any real context in which to translate them into meaningful statistics. A 50% reduction sounds good, but means little if I don’t know the original number. Half of 10 trillion is still at least 4.75 trillion too much, in terms of emissions and waste. What data they do provide does not even take post-consumer waste (AKA their packaging) into account, so it has no bearing on the packaging question, anyway.
All in all, I am just not impressed.