WASHINGTON -- An environmental coalition has accused Hunt Valley-based Noxell Corp. of overpackaging two of its Cover Girl products, a practice the environmentalists said leads to the overflow of landfills.
WasteWatch, comprising Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and three environmental action groups, slapped Noxell with one of eight "Wastemaker" awards for environmentally negligent packaging practices of its Cover Girl "Nail Slicks" and "Salon Solutions."
The group alleged both "Nail Slicks" and "Salon Solutions" are unnecessarily packaged with cardboard backings and boxes and plastic bubbles when they easily can be sold without such materials.
The environmental groups said the only apparent purpose of the extra cardboard on the Cover Girl items is to display a picture of model Christie Brinkley.
At the news conference here yesterday announcing the awards, a Clarion brand nail care solution, marketed without any packaging materials other than the bottle itself, was presented as an environmentally conscious alternative to the Cover Girl packaging.
Noxell director of public affairs Jim Schwartz called the award "totally unwarranted."
Schwartz said the cardboard and plastic packaging used for the products are designed to fit the retailing pegboard system used by retailers.
"We are actively working on developing solutions to reduce and reuse and recycle all types of materials used in our business, with special focus on developing more environmentally sensible packaging," he said. "Well over 50 percent of the nail polish that we sell is sold without any secondary packaging.
"We've also reduced the pegboard card size by about 20 to 25 percent for all of our Cover Girl products."
Gene Karpinski, a member of National Public Interest Research Group which is part of the WasteWatch group, said response in the past to the awards has varied.
"Some companies ignore it, some companies modify slightly, and some companies change substantially," he said.
In Baltimore, Maryland Public Interest Research Group, a branch of the national research group, and Clean Water Action held a companion news conference on the awards.
"As more and more garbage clogs our land fills, this is exactly the kind of wasteful packaging that we don't need," MaryPIRG executive director Daniel Pontious said.
"We've been hearing about how corporate America is becoming environmentally-minded," said Cynthia Hurst of Clean Water Action. "These wastemakers are clearly not part of this trend."
The focus of the WasteWatch awards was health and beauty care products using what the group believed were unnecessary packaging materials. The material's sole purpose, said WasteWatch, is to make the product look bigger or nicer and has no redeeming purpose for the consumer.
Other products given Wastemaker awards included Arrid Extra Dry, Ban Roll-On, Neutrogena eye cream, and Maybelline Brush/Blush III.
The makers of the targeted products all were notified of their awards via fax yesterday morning.
In the past, Wastemaker awards have targeted makers of throwaway cameras, frozen lunches wrapped in many layers of packaging, and overpackaged laundry detergents.
Pallone, whose home state of New Jersey is forced to export a large percentage of its trash because of overflowing landfills, said avoiding the unnecessary materials is key to a safe environmental future.
"Waste disposal fees and state and local taxes will continue to sky rocket as we steadily run out of landfill space to dispose of the vast amount of throwaway packaging . . . produced every year," he said.
"The price for all this packaging -- to the environment and to taxpayers -- simply is too high. Manufacturers need to get the message that less is better [in] packaging."
WasteWatch did praise two companies that have discontinued the manufacture and sale of wastefully packaged products.
One citation went to L'Eggs Products Inc., the makers of L'Eggs pantyhose. The company announced last week it will stop selling pantyhose in the familiar plastic "egg" and will instead use a cardboard "egg" made of recycled fiber.
The other praise went to makers of Fab's One-Shot laundry detergent for significantly reducing plastic and cardboard in its packaging.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.