Here’s another guest blog post from Buddyboy of Medway River Fire Departments. This time it’s about food packaging.
I have raised concerns with Not Delia about the lack of warmed plates in most restaurants, about not being able to find proper soup spoons anywhere, and opined about the need to acknowledge good food and service in restaurants. There, I feel better for that. Well, here is another little food peeve which chafes at me all the time, that of food packaging. Am I the only person around under the impression that the food producers don’t seem to be on the “reduce, re-use, recycle” band wagon yet? On the contrary, they do a whole host of things that drive me crazy. Here are just a few examples.
Some manufacturers put their products in cardboard boxes, items such as cereal packages. Now, some of these packages come apart with little effort. It’s as though they know we have to break the boxes apart and separate them for recycling in flat form and have adjusted the glue they use accordingly. Most, however, just smear strong glue all over every joint so breaking the box apart is an exercise in frustration. If some can produce packages appropriate for recycling, why can’t others?
Cans of food are another example. (We call them cans here in Canada, the Brits call them tins.) The vast majority have paper labels, killing a few trees, adding more waste that has to be removed and disposed of before the can can be melted down for recycling. Yet there are a few cans that have the labellings printed directly on the metal, no paper, no waste. Why can’t they all do that?
And here’s the one that I personally find the most frustrating of all. Biscuit packaging. Why is it that virtually all packaged biscuits are sold in cardboard boxes but wrapped inside those boxes with tightly fitting clear plastic wrapping? No problems with any of that, but why do they use a type of plastic that’s brittle and totally unsealable once opened by the user? Eat a couple of biscuits, put the box containing the rest away in the cupboard and they are soft and past their best within just a few days.
Have manufacturers never come across the type of plastic wrapping we commonly use for everything else, the soft, clear, generously proportioned variety? These days it often comes with some kind of zip-style resealing seam. How expensive, how difficult would it be for the biscuit manufacturers to put their product in this type of resealable bag? I’d be spared the struggle with the hard, brittle plastic film, the biscuits would stay fresh, and the product life and quality would be enhanced in the process.
You’d think that ensuring their product always stayed fresh for the customer would be a priority, would you not? Yes, I know I could repackage biscuits in another bag or even a tin as soon as I open the box for the first time, but that’s hardly efficient when a simple alternative is available if only the manufacturers would get with the programme.
There are other examples, but you get my drift. There was a time when plastic wrap was not an option. As a boy I remember saving waxed paper bread wrappers to use again and again for keeping sandwiches fresh. Today we have aluminium foil, cling film, zip-lock bags, plastic sandwich boxes, lots of options. We all nonetheless have to change the way we dispose of all this stuff when we are finished with it. The simple days of the past are gone, the days where the type of packaging and the way it is designed and used was unimportant. Why are these food manufacturers carrying on as though they are mired in the past or, if not, as though they really don’t care about customer service and satisfaction?
There, I feel better for that too.
Thanks, Buddyboy. I’m inclined to agree about excessive packaging. I fill a whole bin with the stuff after every big shopping trip. Each item, even a single bell pepper, seems to come on its own individual polystyrene tray and is tightly wrapped with cling film. I guess some packaging is necessary to protect the food during transportation but there does seem to be rather a lot of it.
Conversely, there’s barely any packaging in sight at our local market – and the fruit and veg there is usually much fresher than it is in the supermarkets. Now what does that tell you?