Taking Wasteful Packaging To New Heights

Taking Wasteful Packaging To New Heights

If you’ve ever purchased commercial software, you’ll know how much space gets wasted boxing up a single optical disc. But even software vendors are put to shame by the space-wasting potential of Livescribe pen refills.

Here at Lifehacker we’re big fans of the Livescribe, and at $14.95 its ink refills aren’t terrible value either. But it’s beyond me why five pen nibs which can be stored in an area not much bigger than a band-aid need to be sold in a package that’s massively larger than that. The picture tells the story — the white cardboard is the actual content, the rest of the box is just empty air.

I understand that retail logic often dictates that goods which could be sold in minimal space have to be given larger packaging to make them look like “better value” — software is the classic example. But for a $15 refill bundle, I don’t think that flies as an argument. I can only hope more eco-friendly packaging emerges in the future.

Got another example of over-the-top packaging waste? Share it in the comments.


  • Of course, it could be to prevent shoplifting – ridiculously oversized packaging is a lot harder to hide than something the size of a rubber band.

    What’s always intrigued me is showbags: the size of about three ordinary plastic bags in order to hold a couple lollies in the bottom…why?

  • Actually some packaging is required to be such size to stop retailers from loosing money. If you shrink something down to pocket size as in the package was only the peice of white paper was the whole package then it is a HELL of alot easy to shop lift and occurs more commonly. Were as if the package is that big then the person has to risk opening a package and stealing it. Retailers have recently been experiementing increasing commonly stolen lines package size with mixed results.
    Razor blades had no affect, they were just open instead.
    Pads and tampons Had little effect they just emptied contents into bags.
    Sugarine tablets had no effect.
    There just the ones i can remember off my head.

  • check out World of warcraft timecards… something the size of a credit card gets put into a container the size of one of the old school computer boxes… then the store keeps them behind the counter so they cant get lifted anyway …. go figure….

  • I realize that its for security of the device from being stolen.

    Places like Dicksmith have their USB flash drives stowed behind the counter, people have to ask to look at them under supervision.

    Still, who in their right mind is going to buy a no-name flash drive from a supermarket for 30 bucks anyhow?

  • Angus
    Fair call on the packaging. We’ve been complaining to Livescribe about this for the past 2 years.

    The packaging drives us nuts. We stopped shipping ink refills in the POS pack some 20 months ago. At the moment, every time someone orders ink refills from us we take them out of the box, cut the back panel off the box (i.e. the panel that shows you how to change the refill) and we then stuff the panel plus the refills into an envelope.

    This has proven to be a far more efficient way of shipping a critical consumable. But the time and other boxing that gets wasted…sigh…you’d be amazed how many packs of refills we ship every month

  • I think the other aspect of it is shelf space. The more shelf space you can command the more visibility your product gets, the more likely it is your potential customers will spot it. Doesn’t make it right, but that’s the thinking, anyway.

  • Maybe Livescribe could offer behind-the-counter packageless refills for $12? They’d retain the shelf market, but recoup the price difference on the BTC variants via reduced design, packaging, and transport costs.

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