Glass vs. Plastic
When buying your products at the local supermarket, you’ve probably noticed the variety of different containers that your food and drinks come in. Most of them being glass or plastic, but which one do you choose? Which one is not only better for keeping your food fresh but also better for the environment?
We get challenged on this subject every time we meet our lovely customers, and too right, you need to understand the impact of both materials. We use both in our range so you have a choice.
One of the great things about glass is that it is highly recyclable. Glass requires more energy to manufacture and to recycle as it is made from natural substances, such as sand, soda ash and limestone. Another benefit to glass is that it can also be recycled endlessly, while plastic loses its integrity after being recycled many times. However, it does also have its drawbacks as it breaks, costs more to ship because it is heavier, is more expensive to recycle, and it can create six times more global warming gases than plastic.
In New Zealand, there are great examples of councils, businesses and community recyclers who ensure their glass recycling gets turned back into glass jars and bottles or who offer reuse systems for glass bottles and jars.
Unfortunately, though, too much of our nation’s glass recycling gets downcycled into roading aggregate or even landfilled due to limitations in our recycling systems and infrastructure, and the distances glass sometimes has to travel to be recycled at the country’s only glass recycling plant in Auckland. Furthermore, despite the potential for businesses to reuse glass bottles and jars, very few do. As a result, we are squandering glass’ environmental benefits of infinite recyclability and reusability.
On the other hand, while plastic isn’t great if it gets discarded into landfills and in our oceans, it can be easily recycled. One of the other benefits that plastic has is that it is lighter. This means that it requires fewer raw materials and less energy to make, and produces a smaller carbon footprint. Due to their weight, they then take less energy to transport and are easier to dispose of. It can also be downcycled into other products such as carpeting, clothing, and other fibres.
The problems with plastic are that people throw it away instead of recycling it. Some plastics can also leach chemicals and some can contain PVCs (Polyvinyl chloride). When it comes to the leaching of chemicals this process is extremely slow, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry about it. But this process does speed up if the plastic is exposed to extremely high temperatures.
In the end, both glass and plastic have their drawbacks and their benefits. When it comes down to it, whether you choose plastic or glass, the best thing you can do is to recycle them so that they can both work towards bettering the environment.