Glass vs Plastic – The Popular Debate

glass vs plastic

Table of Contents

Glass vs Plastic is one of the most famous topics when it comes to being eco-friendly. The answer may not be as clear as you may have thought. In the eco-friendly world, plastic is seen perhaps as the number one enemy. But is glass really that much better than plastic? 

A survey by the University of Oklahoma, reported by Sustainable Is Good shows that organic consumers choose glass packaging over another packaging. They say it preserves quality and flavor and they also believe that glass packaging is better for the environment. That may be or not be true, but we will get deeper into that.

In this article, we are going to go deeper into the very famous debate on Glass vs Plastic.


Glass vs Plastic - The Popular Debate
Glass products


Glass

When it comes to glass vs plastic, of course glass is the most beloved material for environmentalists and obviously for zero wasters. The best thing glass can add to its name is that it is endlessly recyclable which means it is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without losing the quality.


Pros of glass


1. Glass can withstand high temperatures

Glass can withstand high temperatures without breaking down compared to plastic. Glass can withstand high temperatures up to 400 celsius (752 Fahrenheit), but not sudden cooling and heat. 


2. Made from all-natural materials

Glass is made from natural resources like sand, limestone, and soda ash. The only bad thing in this is that the world is running out of sand, but we will talk about this in the cons of glass.


3. It doesn’t leach harmful chemicals

Glass doesn’t absorb smells or flavors, nor does it leach any toxic chemicals into your food or beverage, and that’s because glass is not made using unsafe chemicals.


4. Can be reused over and over again

Since it doesn’t leach any harmful toxins you can reuse your glass jars over and over again, without having to buy new glass jars each month.


Cons of glass

Glass vs Plastic - The Popular Debate
Broken glass


1. Dangerous when broken

Glass is a really fragile material and it can be easily broken if not handled properly. This makes glass dangerous especially for kids.


2. It’s heavier

Glass is much heavier than plastic. This means it produces more emissions in transportation than plastic and costs more to transport.


3. Most of the glass isn’t recycled

Even though it has the ability to be 100% recycled it doesn’t mean it always is. Only 33% of waste glass is recycled in America and 10 million metric tons of glass are disposed each year.


4. It takes a lot to decompose

It takes one million years for glass to decompose in the environment, and even more in a landfill.


5. We are running out of sand 

After air and water, sand is our most used natural resource. We use it even more than oil. Glass needs sand to be created and we are running out of it.


6. Emissions and energy

The entire process to make glass, especially when using virgin materials, takes a lot of time, energy, and resources. Also when transporting the glass adds up too, creating even more emissions.


Plastic

Glass vs Plastic - The Popular Debate
Plastic waste


How is plastic bad for the environment?

Except for the bio-plastics, most plastics are petroleum-based, a non-renewable energy source. According to the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA), plastics are made from a combination of liquid petroleum gases, natural gas liquids, and natural gas. These non-renewable energy sources pollute the air with greenhouse gas emissions, and the extraction process often contaminates rivers, topsoil, and waterways with hazardous crude oils and toxic sludge. It isn’t just the emissions though. The rate of plastic recycling is incredibly low, with only 9% of the world’s plastic actually getting recycled. Unlike glass, plastic is not fully recyclable, which means that it can only be down-cycled, and by time it will turn into an item of waste that can no longer be recycled again. Also plastic can never break down fully, instead, it turns into microplastics that have been found almost anywhere. Even in our food.


How is plastic bad for our health? 

Studies have shown that chemicals in plastic can leach out of the plastic and into the food and beverages we eat. Some of these chemicals can lead to health problems such as metabolic disorders and reduced fertility. The leach of toxins can occur even faster and to a greater risk when plastic is exposed to heat. 

PETE for example is a type of plastic that contains antimony trioxide, a matter that is considered as a carcinogen and capable of causing cancer.

Generally, there are several chemicals in plastics that are considered worrisome because they have been shown to be harmful to people who are exposed over the long term.

So what’s the bottom line? Glass vs plastic? Well if you’d ask us, we would always go for glass, never for plastic.

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