Is glass that much better than plastic?

Plastic packaging is unthinkable for people who want to live without waste. Glass, on the other hand, can do no wrong. I catch myself having no problem buying something in/with glass and always try to avoid plastic. I wanted to know if its true. Is glass that much better than plastic for the environment?

First, I looked at the negative points of glass. To make new glass, sand is needed. This sand comes from rivers and sea banks. This extraction causes the disturbance of ecosystems. When glass is made, it has to be transported. The biggest disadvantages compared to plastic are that glass is heavier and therefore transport causes more emissions. In addition, glass breaks more easily during transport. 

The biggest advantage of glass is that the recycling is a closed loop recycling. This means that no additional waste or by-products are created, in contrast to plastic. Of the negative points mentioned above, the first (mining sand) is largely eliminated. However, this is only true if all glass is recycled instead of being dumped. In America, less than half of the glass is recycled as this is more expensive than making new glass. In Belgium (and many other European countries) however, almost 100% of correctly discarded glass is recycled and reused (yay Belgium). 

So to answer the question: is glass that much better than plastic? We need to look at a lot of factors rather than just the recycling process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *