9 March 2022

Top 5 ridiculously over-packaged products

How much packaging is too much packaging?

We’ve received so many complaints about over-packaged supermarket products. So we asked our supporters to tell us who the worst offenders are.

We’ve collated the entries and here are the winners, in reverse order: 

5. Pure’n Ezy Sweetcorn – Leaderbrand  

Individually vacuum-sealed corn cobs.

Pure’n Ezy is the name - ironically, it’s not its game.  

The company behind this have removed the corn’s natural packaging and replaced it with vacuum-sealed plastic that requires a pair of scissors to break into. Pure’n Ezy indeed.  

“Individually wrapped corn? Please make it stop.” – Claire  

4. Pre-packaged fresh meat on plastic trays 

Burger patties on plastic tray.

“Such wasteful use of plastic packaging goes against everything people are trying to do to reduce plastic waste. I complained to no avail.” – June 

“We always go to the local butcher instead, as you get your meat in a simple, thin, plastic bag. No tray.” – Graham

3. Verkerks Salami Protein Snack Pack  

Individually packaged slices of salami.

Surely only a meathead would appreciate these six packs of individually plastic-wrapped salami segments?  

“In each of these packs (which are more packaging than product), I could only see 3 small pieces of salami.” – Claire 

2. Electric toothbrush replacement brushes  

Replacement toothbrush head shown unpackaged.

An electric toothbrush may be the dentist’s recommended choice, but the double layer of plastic that comes with it is not. We’re still trying to think what the reasoning could be behind this one…  

“Not only are they hard to break open in the first place, but all the replacement heads are individually wrapped and sealed in hard plastic, and then they are all placed in a bigger hard plastic wrapping – such an overpackaged item and complete waste of space!” – Karen 

“Why we need a blister pack inside a blister pack is beyond me, and of course in NZ at least it just ends up in landfill.” – Irene

“The head is inside a small plastic and card package (all unrecyclable) - Stuck onto a piece of card with that soft hot glue-type adhesive (card is recyclable, glue isn’t) - Packaged in a plastic case (all unrecyclable).” – Paul

1. Watties 3-pack cans of baked beans  

Watties 3-pack of baked beans.

Three tins, held together by plastic. Why? No one knows. 

No, it’s not the most plastic – but it is the plastic that annoyed the most people (judging from the number of complaints we received about this shrink-wrapped trio). 

“The thing that bugs me the most is when you buy three tins of baked beans and they’re strapped together in shrink-wrapped plastic that is not only a nightmare to remove but cannot be good for our planet.” – Julie

“We can't see any good reason for the plastic-wrapped 3-packs of Watties baked beans. They are often on sale at a cheaper price per can than the individual cans, but I don't like to buy them because of the unnecessary plastic waste” – Ann 

“In this day and age this is gross insensitivity to environmental needs and aspirations. I’m all for the quantity discount being offered, but surely they could just apply it for every 3 cans on the docket? It would cost them less than what applying the plastic wrap does!” – Bob  

“We boycott Watties baked beans now because they are such a farce.  I want to push over the display stand when I walk past it but have restrained myself so far.” – Jeanie  

Have you seen a terrible example of overpackaging? Comment below or email us at feedback@consumer.org.nz.

Member comments

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Kubi W.
16 Mar 2022
Worst Packaging

You need a pair of scissors. You buy them wrapped in such heavy duty packaging that you need a pair of scissors to open it…

15 Mar 2022
Hard and double plastic packaging

The reason some items are packed in hard to open plastic is because of theft. If it's hard to get out, the chances of it being stolen are reduced. At home we have scissors and knives to help us open.

Anny D.
12 Mar 2022
The corn is pressure cooked and ready to eat NOT raw in its packaging

Read the pack info and it will probably explain to you that it has been pressure cooked in that packaging so ready to eat. Of course that packaging needs to be tight otherwise if there was a leak or if it is blown it wouldn't be safe. It is a modern form of canning.

Lyn D.
13 Mar 2022
Why though?

Corn takes max 10mins to cook so why do we need to have it pressure cooked? Undoubtedly you still have to heat it.

Minh Hieu T.
19 Mar 2022
Why ? Because there is a market for it !

Even it takes 10mins to boil the corn, apparently for some people it's still worth it !
If nobody buy it then suddenly they will simply make those.

Campbell G.
12 Mar 2022
...and next...

> So now we know many people are upset about needless over packaging.
> What can we now do to stop this ?
(start buying veggies from local veggie shops for example?)
> Now that we no longer have the old "NZ made" sticker,
can we somehow at least identify which nz owed companies need to be approached,
to at least stop this from happenning on our door-step.

Nick C.
12 Mar 2022
Recyclable Plastic Packaging - Clarification Needed!

This is not a complaint about overpackaging but about hard plastic packaging generally. We are fed up with having to put some plastics under the microscope to find the recycling symbol. This needs standardisation for visibility - maybe a minimum of 15mm across? And often, having searched all over, we find no recycling symbol, so according to the council rules, the item goes in landfill. Bad! Countdown's own-brand filled pasta is a persistent offender here. We'd like to know why any retailer is allowed to sell anything in hard plastic packaging that can't be recycled - usually types 1,2, or 5 - and as mentioned above, the recycling symbol needs to be easier to find.

Wal Marshall
12 Mar 2022
100% agree..

Time for some tougher regulations and buyer boycott of poorly marked recyclable products.

Trevor H.
12 Mar 2022
Toilet Paper

About a year ago, one could buy a particular brand of toilet paper - six mega rolls for $4.50 on special. Now, on special it is $6.50: that's a 44% increase and is IMHO totally unjustified. I could never get my head around the need to panic buy this - COVID is a respiratory disease, not a gastro-intestinal one, but it seems to have given an incentive to companies to massively rack up the costs.

Neil M.
12 Mar 2022
Toilet Paper

No idea why people are panic buying when toilet paper is manufactured in NZ so there is unlikely to be a shortage....

John J.
12 Mar 2022
Toilet Paper

Neil M. One of the three NZ toilet paper companies closed for good at the end of last year, so future shortages are not so rediculous.