Shot-size drink pouch is irresponsible idea
Once in a while, we come across a case where a type of packaging is, plain and simple, ethically careless. And that's the case with the 1.2-ounce, shot-size drink pouch that Mexican authorities pulled from store shelves last month.
The multilayer pouches were introduced to package brandy and tequila in small, inexpensive portions. The manufacturer, Mexico City-based Pyn SA de CV, also touts that the pouches ensure that consumers are buying sanitary, unadulterated drinks.
The pouch was a 1997 winner of the WorldStar for Packaging Award, selected by an international jury from the World Packaging Organisation. If this pouch was used to package milk or water, the application would be truly commendable.
But used to package liquor by the drink, the pouch is irresponsible.
The low price encourages alcohol abuse — imagine that in Mexico, an alcoholic now only needs to scrape together 41 cents to get one of these drinks. And while the price per drink is cheap, the price by the ounce is actually higher than liquor in conventionally sized types of packaging.
Although shopkeepers still are responsible for barring alcohol sales to underage consumers, in reality this type of packaging makes liquor more accessible to adolescents.
Plastic is the material of choice for packaging a variety of products, including some that can be downright unsettling.
Every day, in newspapers all over the world, plastic packaging gets a big share of unwanted publicity. You've seen the items, the short news stories that say someone was arrested after a police search discovered plastic bags full of white powder or green leafy substances, or plastic vials of crack cocaine.
Illegal drugs are big on plastic packaging.
The plastic isn't the problem, of course. Typically, the kinds of packaging in question have plenty of legitimate applications that dwarf the plastics use in wrapping illicit drugs.
But the case of the drink pouch shows an unseemly, mercenary side of the industry that invites government regulation and consumer contempt.
Industry must confront Greenpeace concerns
The fact that 11 state attorneys general are taking a close look at the use of PVC in toys is additional proof that the plastics industry needs to pay attention to Greenpeace.
The attorneys general wrote a letter to toy makers and retailers in February asking for detailed industry research about lead, cadmium and phthalates in PVC products, as well as information about alternative materials.
The letter was the result of persistent instigation by Greenpeace, which has stepped up its always enthusiastic attacks on the PVC industry.
Some within the industry would prefer to ignore Greenpeace. But clearly, with this kind of pressure on PVC, industry needs to arm itself with facts, not to stick its head in the sand.