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Shopper calls out Folgers over change to coffee product: 'Wrapped in non-recyclable plastic for no reason'

"It doesn't even look better."

"It doesn't even look better."

Photo Credit: Reddit

Plastic packaging is already controversial for being hard on the environment, but what's worse is when companies add more packaging for no clear reason. The designs often seem worse or simply baffling. That's what happened to one Folgers blend, prompting a frustrated post on r/mildlyinfuriating.

What happened?

One Reddit user posted side-by-side photos comparing the old and new 641-gram containers of Folgers Intensely Dark ground coffee. 

"New Folgers container is exactly the same as before but wrapped in non-recyclable plastic for no reason," they complained.

"It doesn't even look better."
Photo Credit: Reddit

The two tubs in the photos are both made of red plastic with black lids. They both appear to have the same shape and dimensions, with indents on the sides to make them easier to lift. But the old container has an adhesive label stuck to the front, while the new one's label comes in the form of a large plastic wrapper around the entire container.

"I'm guessing it's cheaper to make," said one commenter.

Why does the extra plastic matter?

An extra layer of plastic might make sense if it were sealed around the product to keep it fresh, but this layer only covers part of the bottle's exterior, so it's purely cosmetic. And, as one Redditor said, "It doesn't even look better."

Not only is there no clear benefit to consumers, but there are drawbacks. The plastic can't be mixed in with recyclables and has to be disposed of separately from the main container, which is inconvenient.

The slick plastic is also more slippery than the original textured surface, making the container easier to drop.

Plus, plastic trash is bad for the environment. Plastic sheds microplastics over time, and it contributes to the incredible amounts of plastic litter in our environment.

What is Folgers doing to be more eco-friendly?

So far, Folgers says it's focusing its sustainability efforts on its supply chain, not its containers. It is involved in training programs and investing, which are designed to improve the economic situations of farmers and produce more ethically sourced coffee beans.

This is a big deal because, right now, a lot of the world's coffee is made through deforestation and exploitation in some of the world's most vulnerable regions. The EU and other governments have taken steps to turn the tide, but much of the coffee we drink is still produced in ways that damage the environment.

Folgers still has a long way to go in this arena; in fact, its website says it doesn't even know what percentage of its coffee beans is produced by ethical, sustainable farming.

The Cool Down reached out to Folgers for comment about the plastic wrap, and the company did not dispute the wrapper must be thrown away but did say "the coffee canister and overcap on this product are recyclable," according to a spokesperson. 

"The packaging includes graphics providing clarity on how consumers can recycle the materials appropriately by discarding the seal and label, emptying the container, and replacing the lid," the spokesperson said.

What can I do to minimize plastic waste?

If you can find a plastic-free and deforestation-free coffee brand to support, you'll be ahead of most of America. Blueland, an eco-friendly kitchen and bathroom products company, took the time to put together a guide on a sustainable cup of coffee and included some brand recommendations. 

You can also cut out other plastic products, such as disposable dishes and cutlery, bottled water, and plastic razors. Most of these products have longer-lasting, more cost-effective plastic-free alternatives.

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