My Goals

To share eco tips &
To discuss changes we can make.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Aquafresh's response to my boycott

Below is Aquafresh's response to my email questioning their packaging choices. You can read that post here.

The carton for Extreme Clean® is recyclable. You can put the package in the recycling bin and it will be recycled. However, not all of the package is recyclable, which is why there is no recycling number on it. We have confirmation that if the carton is put into a recycling bin, that some of it will be recycled, but not all, so we did not print a recycling number on the carton in order to not mislead anyone.

As a manufacturer of a wide variety of consumer products, we are very committed to providing our consumers with the best possible products. One of the most visible means of achieving this standard of excellence is the actual product packaging.

We have found that the use of our current packages insure stability and prevent physical damage to the products after leaving our manufacturing facilities. However, we do recognize that the increasing impact of humans on the environment requires
continual review of all products, packaging, and processes.

Our Research and Development and Packaging Departments are seeking viable solutions to these contemporary challenges. Currently, they are evaluating all materials used in the manufacture of our products, and are proposing among other alternatives that these materials come from renewable resources and degrade safely in the environment.

Your interest in contacting us is very much appreciated. Like our consumers, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare has a concern for the environment. We hope to confront these challenges together and actively encourage our customers to share their thoughts on these matters with us.

While your first thought after reading it may be "That's great! It is recyclable.", you have to wonder how great it really is if no one knows it's recyclable. How is it supposed to get recycled if no one knows we can? It simply doesn't make any sense. They said they don't put that it's recyclable on the package because it isn't completely recyclable and they don't want to mislead anyone. Well, I feel misled.

I intend to write a reply explaining my disappointment in this answer. Especially the part about this packaging bringing stability and preventing "physical damage to the products". That's not why they're using that packaging. They're using it because it's aesthetically pleasing. It's clear that they care more about appearance than what their product is doing to our planet. Of course, like I've said before, they're not going to care until we make them by stopping our purchase of their products.


Keith said...

"Recyclable" is not the same as "recycled." In theory all plastics are recyclable, even PVC. But in most curbside pickup programs in the US (and elsewhere), only the PET, HDPE, LDPE and PP get recycled. Composites or unusual resins (like the ABS utilized in computer casings) generally are NOT recycled -- not enough buyers. In all likelihood, they don't put the code on their package because it is one of these. I have to wonder, though, how they get away with that, since in a majority of US states resin marking is required.

The reason that they can get away with claiming that your plastic package will be accepted if you put it in your recycling bin is that many waste collection programs have stopped insisting that consumers sort out the resin codes, since consumers so often got it wrong. They tell you just to put all plastics in, then they sort out later which ones they want to recycled (the ones I indicated above) and landfill or incinerate the rest.

I don't buy their "physical damage" explanation either. Honestly, how often do you think those rectanguloid carton packages packed in corrugated cardboard shipping boxes got serious damage? And metal toothpaste tubes could only have serious damage if punctured, and I don't think plastics will prevent puncture damage all that much more than board packaging.

Keith R
The Temas Blog

callmekelly said...

Thanks Keith for your comments. You're right about recycled vs. recyclable. I should probably pay more attention to the two. As far as putting in curbside bins. My city specifies only #1 & #2 plastics will be accepted. So, when I don't see any markings on their packaging, I assume it can't go in the bin. I think it's ridiculous for them to assume the average citizen would think otherwise.