The Advantages of Plastic vs. Glass Containers
October 25, 2018
Plastic isn’t always the first material that people think about when discussing recyclability, especially when compared to glass. But after some research, we believe plastic should be chosen over glass, especially for the food and beverage markets.
Weight and Durability
Glass is heavier and more fragile than plastic. This makes transportation more expensive due to increased weight and the need for packaging materials to cushion the product during transportation. Additional materials makes for a greater environmental impact. Because glass is more fragile than plastic, statistically, there will be more loss during transport (and in general) leading to decreased profits.
Plastic is much lighter and more durable than glass. This makes it cheaper to transport. Because there are fewer trips and less packaging material needed it also leaves a smaller carbon footprint. Additionally, plastic is more flexible than glass, making it easier to be molded which enables brands to build identity.
The Washington Post published an article discussing the disadvantages of glass peanut butter jars. It concluded that plastic was, for the most part, better for the environment and cut costs. They reported, “The problem, as Vermont Peanut Butter points out, is weight. Glass is far heavier than plastic. Two years ago, peanut giant Planters cut packaging weight by 84 percent when they switched from glass to plastic jars.”
Health and Safety
Because glass is fragile, it has a tendency to shatter and can create a potentially dangerous and messy situation. The shards left behind create a safety hazard. This affects those that work in factories, transportation, retail, and finally the consumer. While glass will break, plastic has the ability to deform and bounce back into shape if dropped, thus it is less of a safety hazard.
There have been many concerns about chemicals in plastics getting into the contents of the container and becoming harmful. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic is the greenest, cleanest type of plastic. It does not contain bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical that has the potential to seep into foods and beverages and possibly cause health concerns. The PET Resin Association (PETRA) states that, “PET is the world’s packaging choice for many foods and beverages because it is hygienic, strong, lightweight, shatterproof, and retains freshness.”
According to PLANT Apothecary, “PET plastic—even when it’s been recycled from other PET products—has been proven not to leach harmful chemicals into the products it contains.”
An article from Packaging of the World (POTW) said that while the recycling of glass peaked in the nineties, recycling of plastic is still growing. They reported, “Over forty percent of the plastic made is recycled, as compared to only twenty percent of glass containers.”
Learn more about Plastic vs. Glass with these helpful links:
Back to All News