Thursday, January 20, 2011

Duracell How is This Less Wasteful?

Husband’s MP3 player eats AAA batteries. After not finding any at my local stores, I decided to buy a package of rechargeable Duracell batteries on line because I had a coupon.

I bought those batteries through Proctor and Gambles’ Future Friendly estore. Future Friendly is the new label Proctor and Gamble is putting on their current packaging to rebrand their products to appear greener. They are just talking about the packaging, not the ingredients. They say:

This multi-brand initiative brings together the power of trusted brands like Tide, Pampers, PUR, Duracell and others for a simple mission: to help consumers save water, waste and energy at home.
(Boldface mine.)

I Ordered Rechargeable Batteries and All I Got Was Plastic  

I knew going into this purchase that the rechargeable batteries are not a 100% green product. No battery is, I was just trying to buy a little better than an one use battery which I can recycle at the customer service desk at Easton Town Center. However I want to reduce the number of batteries I drop off there.

This is how Duracell packaged my order of one card of four AAA rechargeable batteries. The box longer than Blitzkrieg! I got more packaging than product.

Dude, even I know this is wasteful and I'm a dog.

I can't even recycle all of the packaging I got with my order. I can recycle or compost the cardboard box but I can't recycle the #2 plastic packing pillows. If the plastic pillows were #4 plastic like the recycled content packing pillows Alice uses I could put the pillows in the disposable plastic bag recycling bin at the grocery store.

But not P and G's plastic packing pillows. I can't put the #2 plastic pillows in my home recycling bin because plastic bags stop up #2 plastic recycling machines. They are not accepted by my recycling program, are they accepted by yours?

I am more than a little disappointed.  I'm trying to support an Ohio based company. Proctor and Gamble has many manufacturing plants in Ohio. I used to drive past their headquarters almost daily when I lived in Cincinnati. It's hard for me though because most of Proctor and Gamble's products are not made with the environmentally friendly ingredients I prefer. P and G claims they don't work as well. I disagree and vote with my wallet. I don't buy those products.

However, rechargeable batteries are something that they make that I agree with. I can also recycle the batteries at my local Batteries Plus store. In the interest of reducing our household waste, I ordered a card of Duracell AAA batteries. Sadly I made more waste than I anticipated saving.

Duracell, exactly what part of my order saved waste?

Is all of this packaging necessary for 4 tiny AAA batteries?

Couldn’t they have put my batteries in a padded mailer? It uses less packaging and it is cheaper to ship. Does anyone have contact information for a real person at Duracell who can answer my questions? I don't want to send a letter expressing my disappointment to a generic customer service person who doesn't have the power to make a change in their shipping materials.

Have you even been disappointed in how you received something that was supposed to be more environmentally friendly?

Update Feb 11, 2011: Duracell sent me the following information about their packaging on my battery order:

Hi Condo Blues – my name is Mike Nolan, I’m the community manager for P&G’s Future Friendly program. Thanks for the questions in your January 20 blog post, “Duracell How is This Less Wasteful?” We always appreciate consumer feedback. 

I spoke with the P&G eStore in order to obtain answers and possible solutions your questions and concerns. I found out that only about 7% of orders from the P&G eStore are for a single-item, which is why the batteries came in such a large box (it is the smallest size they currently have), with pillows to protect the product. I’ve confirmed that the eStore is presently looking for ways to reduce packaging for single-item orders – and feedback like this helps them understand where there is a need.

As for the Duracell product itself, I thought you might be interested to know that in the U.S., more than 97% of alkaline batteries are packaged in 100% recycled cardboard, and 100% of the outer cartons are 100% recycled cardboard. Duracell is also looking for ways to save energy during the manufacturing process, and has reduced energy use by 15-20% over the past eight years.

You can learn more about P&G’s commitment to sustainability at or reply back to me if you have any further questions.

Thanks again, Mike.

Did you enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to the Condo Blues RSS Feed  or to Condo Blues by Email.