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Oversized packaging: named and shamed

Which? members share the most ridiculous packaging they've received

Have you ever ordered something online, and then been shocked by the amount of packaging your order turned up in? Well, you’re not the only one. We asked Which? members for their most shocking examples and were inundated with responses.

From spare laces in packages big enough for several pairs of shoes to the camping mat in a box that could also fit a nine-year-old boy, it’s clearly an issue that spans all types of retail and retailer.

While they might make you chuckle at first glance, there’s a more serious side to this issue. With each UK household using 55kg of plastic waste per year, Which? is calling on manufacturers to stop using non-recyclable where recyclable options exist. And while some online orders do come packaged in cardboard, excess packaging is still adding more to our waste and recycling systems that doesn’t need to be there. Find out more about how to recycle in the UK.

The worst examples of excess packaging

We asked Which? members to send us their worst cases of over-packaging and received scores of examples from across the country.

Among them were a printer ink cartridge in a box 11 times the size, lip balm arriving in a huge box, loo rolls in an oversized box with extra paper padding and three washers in a box hundreds of times their size.

Here are just a few of the worst examples we were sent:

What can shoppers do about it?

If you’re unhappy with the packaging your online shopping arrives in, there are ways you can make a difference:

  • Complain to the retailer: Make sure you communicate your dissatisfaction. If you don’t tell them, they might not know your product was packaged this way.
  • Recycle it where possible: Cardboard and many types of plastic are widely recyclable in the UK, so make sure you dispose of the packaging in the most environmentally-friendly way you can.

Every year, we quiz thousands of shoppers on the best places to shop online. We ask them about everything from availability and price to deliveries – and a whole lot in between. Find out more about the best and worst online shops.

What do the retailers say?

We asked all the retailers involved to comment on the packaging used.

An Amazon spokesperson said that it was always driving improvements in packaging and waste reduction across its supply chain.

They added: ‘Customer feedback informs our worldwide packaging team and allows us and our vendors to make improvements.’

We didn’t hear back from Engelbert Strauss or Lifestyle Labs.

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