In glass packaging, ever wonder what glass is made from? It’s actually composed of a special type of sand called Silica Sand (SIO2). And at the rate we are consuming this sand, eventually this natural resource will be depleted. In addition, we are also destroying our environment just to mine the sand. So, what do we do?
Every city and town across the country has a recycling program. They teach it in schools, so children learn at a young age about sustainability. And one of the cornerstones of most recycling programs is glass. Not only is glass an excellent material for recycling and but it is made from natural resources. So, glass seems like the perfect solution, so why not use it more? Of course, it can’t be that easy.
The amazing thing about glass is that is can be recycled endlessly without losing quality or purity. Glass is one material that is recycled by colors; amber, clear, green and light pink are recyclable, but opal, mirrored or any other colors are not recyclable for a variety of reasons.
If we talk about its market value and growth, the worldwide cosmetics and perfumery glass containers market was rated at $1809.26 million in 2020 and is expected to observe a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 3.63% over the estimated period (2021-2026).
What are the positive and negative aspects of glass as a sustainable glass packaging option?
Glass Packaging and Sustainability
Glass is 100% recyclable, and it is recycled and converted into new glass. It does not lose quality like plastic or paper over time. The glass is crushed, melted in the presence of sand, limestone, and some other natural materials, and the same quality products are obtained as before.
Similarly, while talking about the ocean problems, such as trash, pollution, fishing resources' overexploitation, and unsustainable aquaculture, glass proves to be useful because it is non-toxic and made of natural materials, not containing Bisphenol A or other chemical additives.
Conversely, if we look at the other side of the picture, it shows that there are still some problems with the glass. For example, the production process of glass uses more energy and has more emissions than plastic, and fossil fuels are required to operate the furnaces, knowing that the melting point of the glass is 2700 degrees Fahrenheit. That is more than double the heat required for plastic or aluminum. And remember, more energy and emissions mean more carbon footprint.
In the same way, when we throw away the glass, it ends up in a landfill (again, not getting into specifics of how recycling programs can improve but factually most glass end up in a landfill), where it is either burned or buried. From 2000 to 2017, the world produced over 71 million tons of glass and recycled only 18 million tons (25% of the made glass). Also, the glass recycling industry in the United States is broken with varying local laws from state to state, and states are reducing recycling plans.
Glass is heavy and delicate in comparison to plastic, having lower impact resistance. It increases transportation costs and may require some extra layers of packaging in glass packaging. However, if we look at it from another perspective that the glass lasts longer, the costs can be compensated.
Weighing the positives and negatives of glass and whether to move forward should be determined by each company. Companies should determine what their dedication to sustainability and whether they want to move forward with glass or look at other sustainable options. Let APC Packaging educate you on the various materials to select the right ones to meet your sustainability needs as well as your brand requirements.