Many photographs of glass jars are displayed when you search for “zero waste.” The zero-waste movement is inundated with images of glass goods, including trash cans and jar lids that clutter our cupboards.
What is the allure of glass, and why do we have such a desire to utilise it? Is glass really more environmentally beneficial than plastic?
We’ve teamed up with Simply Plastics to conduct an environmental audit of both.
Plastic has a poor reputation among environmentalists. Its bad name is because only 9% of it is recycled. However, when it comes to production and recycling, there is so much more to consider.
To make new glass, you need sand. While we have a lot of desert, beach, and underwater sand on hand, it is being consumed at a greater rate than the planet’s capacity to replenish it. When it comes to filling our lakes and ponds, we choose sand over oil, and only a specific sort of sand can do the job.
Riverbeds and seabeds supply most of the sand we use. By removing sand from its natural habitat, ecosystems are depleted of microorganisms, that live there. These microorganisms nourish the food chain. Sand removal from the seabed exposes beach communities to flooding and erosion. So removing sand from the environment can be very harmful.
Glass is more expensive to ship and heavier than plastic. It generates more CO2 during movement than plastic and is more expensive to transport. Another problem with glass is that most of it isn’t really recycled. According to one research, the US recycles less than 33% of waste glass. About 10 million metric tons are produced annually in the US, so how much do consumers bin yearly?
Glass is a rare material to recycle since the material is used as a low-cost landfill cover. Consumers who engage in “wish-cycling,” discarding non-recyclables into the trash and polluting the environment, are one of the main reasons why glass is so difficult to come by because it contains a variety of metals.
Recycling coloured glass is challenging to do as well. It’s not recyclable because the manufacturing process for windows and Pyrex bakeware is designed to endure high temperatures.
Glass is not biodegradable and may remain for many years in a landfill. There are several more worries with glass that impact the environment.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. We should work to reduce our reliance on single-use goods! If you just used it once, see whether there’s anything better. Of course, there are exceptions, but we can have a significant impact by being more conscious of our purchases.
When it comes to plastics, avoid using as many as possible. If you can, reuse plastic bottles and jars rather than buying new ones. Is it really recycling if we don’t use recycled items?