Glass bottles vs. plastic… which is really best?
The containers we use for our products, food and drink have changed a lot over the past decade. Glass bottles came first but, in recent times, plastic has dominated the market. Today, however, there is a huge shift back towards glass, as a result of potentially harmful components in plastic products and the environmental impact of choosing one over the other. But which one is really best?
Glass is a clear winner on the environmental front, both in terms of its production and where it ends up at the end of its life. Glass is 100% recyclable, one of the few materials that can be reused again and again without any degradation in quality. Only around 9% of plastics are recycled and most end up in landfill or in the oceans – in 2017 scientists found evidence of plastics in 83% of global tap water samples, as a result of plastic pollution, and plastics have also been found in rock salt and fish.
Cleanliness and ease of use
Plastic was initially marketed as the material that is easiest to use when it comes to packaging. However, this really depends on the circumstances. Glass, for example, is much easier to sterilise, whether you’re sterilising baby bottles or glass bottles for home brew. Innovations such as soda lime or borosilicate glass have also made it much easier to use glass on a daily basis, as they are lighter and easier to transport and much less prone to breaking.
There has been a lot of focus on bisphenol A (BPA), which was found in products such as plastic baby bottles and is now widely acknowledged to be harmful to human health. Although many plastic products are now BPA free there is a school of thought that has examined the large number of chemicals in plastics and highlighted concerns about what other components might turn out to be harmful in the future. Glass, on the other hand, has much fewer risks, as it’s always been BPA and chemical free.
Plastics are used for a huge range of different products and, as a result, many assumptions have been made about their effectiveness. However, the decision to use plastics in product packaging is often made on the basis of cost – plastics are generally cheaper to produce and use for those brands manufacturing the products. For consumers though plastics may not always be the better choice. There are well documented risks of chemicals leaching from plastics into food or drink - for example, some plastic bottles exposed to the sun can release BPA and antimony into the water. Plastic can also impact on enjoyment of food and drink, leaving an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Glass doesn’t suffer from these failings, as it is both highly effective in terms of preserving, and tasteless and odourless too.
Most plastics are just not aesthetically pleasing and this too can have an impact on enjoyment. Glass is a great way to display the efforts of everything, from olive oil or artisan chutney, to jam or home brew. It can be reused again and again and still look attractive. Plastic deteriorates quickly and is no good for reuse.
At JBC we have a range of beautiful glass bottles that make perfect packaging – over and over again. If glass has won the packaging debate for you then we have lots of fantastic options to choose from.