Myths Debunked: Is Glass Really More Eco-Friendly Than Plastic?

The general consensus with people everywhere seem to be that glass is the perfect alternative for plastic.

Since the time I started my zero-waste journey, I don’t think I have made it through even one day without hearing about how awful plastic is for our planet and how choosing glass is a better option. Green marketers everywhere are shouting about the benefits of glass.

Well, I cannot deny that glass does have certain environmental benefits. However, at the same time it takes quite a toll on our planet. Glass actually takes more natural resources and energy to produce than plastic.

Glass formation needs high temperature powered by fossil fuels, and during production, it itself releases carbon dioxide.

In fact, a one-liter glass bottle can weigh up to 800g, while a similar plastic bottle weighs around 40g. That extra weight means vehicles transporting glass bottles consume more fossil fuels to deliver the same amount of liquid.

Here are some more myths about glass debunked:

Glass is easily recycled:

We are mostly under the impression that glass can be recycled an infinite number of times without losing integrity. It’s true that glass jars can be recycled into more glass jars or bottle, but there is a devilish catch to it.

Glass can only be recycled with the same color of glass. It simply means that you can’t recycle your red wine bottles with your clear bottles or jars.

So, glass is only recycled when manufacturers have a setup to process colored glass. And believe it or not they will only do that if they have a buyer for the resulting recycled material that’s close to the recycling plant because glass is heavy, and transportation costs a bomb.

So, you’re probably doing your part and putting all your wine and beer bottles and other glass jars into the recycle bin, thinking you’re saving the planet. But, the truth is that your area may not even have a manufacturer that accepts all the colored glass.

If that’s the case, chances are that all the glass you are disposing is going to end up in a landfill instead of being recycled.

Glass is safer than plastic.

You’re probably thinking that plastic has chemicals and chemicals harm your health. Therefore, glass is safer than plastic.

Well, that’s certainly what most people think. Before we dive deeper into this. I suggest that you do a Google search with the search query “does glass contain any harmful chemicals”.

You’ll be surprised to learn that there are multiple studies that have found lead and cadmium in drinking glasses and glass bottles, particularly the ones tinted with color like wine and beer bottles.

Recycling glass consumes less energy than recycling plastic

Well, yes! It’s certainly true that recycling glass saves energy. In fact, the energy that is saved when creating new glass with recycled glass is about 1/3 the cost of producing glass from scratch with raw materials.

However, were you aware that it is about the same as the energy savings for recycling plastic? Not to mention how expensive it is to transport glass. In comparison plastic is lightweight and more energy efficient to transport than glass.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s Aluminum Cans.

Why? They consume energy and resources and aren’t made from fossil fuels either, like plastic. Cans also contribute less to environmental problems like acid rain and oxygen-free zones in the ocean.

But, when you use recycled Aluminum Cans, it can save 95% of the energy used to make a new can and no additional material needs to be mined or transported.

Eventually, the best option would be to phase out single-use packaging entirely and introduce a system of reusing containers. But let’s not kid ourselves into believing that we can stop using glass right away. Or even that no lead or cadmium in glass means no health risk. There will always be dangers all around us, and these are good reminders to be moderate in everything we do so that we don’t have overexposure to any one thing.

All we really need to do is ensure that we are reusing the glass bottles that we own.

On a related note:

Our Tangie hand sanitizer comes in a glass bottle specifically since it can be reused and refilled as many times as possible for storing your liquid hand sanitizer. One added benefit is that our hands sanitizers come without any chemicals and contains natural ingredients.