Glass vs Plastic

Glass is likely a more sustainable choice than plastic. (Photo: auntjojo [CC BY ND-2.0]/Flickr)

Most environmentalists have come to a conclusion in the paper vs plastic debate. The answer – neither. Go with reusable bags. But what about glass vs plastic? Which is the better choice?

Is Glass Sustainable?

Seems organic consumers feel glass is a better choice for both food quality and eco-friendliness. Sustainable is good reports that a survey done by the University of Oklahoma showed organic consumers choose glass packaging over other packaging. They believe it preserves quality and flavor while helping to lengthen shelf life. Consumers also believe glass packaging is better for the environment.

I’m not sure if something like applesauce keeps better in a glass jar as opposed to a plastic jar, but I do know that the glass jar is a better choice environmentally if it’s recycled properly.

Recycling Differences

When glass is recycled it gets turned in to more glass. It can be recycled over and over and never lose its integrity. Plastic bottles, however, are not recycled into plastic bottles. The plastic loses its integrity and needs to be turned into something different such as plastic lumber or carpet padding. Because of this, some people say that plastic isn’t truly recycled; it’s downcycled. I read somewhere once that downcycling is like making a copy of a photo copy. Each time a copy is copied, quality is lost.

Every time a product is packaged in a plastic bottle, jar, or other container, it’s new plastic. All new resources went into making it. Glass jars, on the other hand, can be made from recycled glass. They aren’t always are, but it’s becoming more common.

Next time you have a choice between glass packaging or plastic packaging for an item, consider buying the item in the glass packaging. Just make sure to stick it in the recycling bin when you’re done.