The photo, showing a bunch of single oranges individually placed on Styrofoam trays and wrapped in plastic cling wrap, was posted to the r/EgregiousPackaging subreddit. Many of the posters on the subreddit could not believe their eyes.
“How ridiculous,” one commenter succinctly summed it up.
“Yuck, plastic. Oranges already have their own excellent protective packaging that is organic,” wrote another.
More than 330 million tons of plastic is produced yearly worldwide, with over 12 million tons of it eventually finding its way into the ocean, according to a UN report. And almost half of that ocean pollution figure consists of flexible monomaterials, such as films, wraps, and bags, which are even more difficult to recycle than hard plastics.
An article in House Digest states that plastic wrap “contains either PVC (polyvinylidene chloride) or low-density polyethylene, neither of which are harmless.” The article states that PVC, which is still used in some brands of wrap, contains toxic elements, including lead and cadmium.
Conventional plastics may take tens to hundreds of years to break down in nature. And plastic never truly, fully degrades, eventually breaking down into microplastics that contaminate water sources and never leave.
While some companies are working on more environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic cling wrap, such as seaweed-based cling wrap, potato-based cling wrap, and others, a more pressing issue is that — as the above commenter rightly pointed out — there is simply no need to wrap individual oranges in anything in the first place.
Oranges are protected by their peels and never need additional packaging protection. The wasted plastic wrap shown in the photo is a solution to a problem that simply does not exist.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have seen similarly excessive plastic packaging on food — meal kit delivery services are repeat offenders, doing things like plastic-wrapping individual bulbs of garlic or green onions.
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