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Is Glass or Plastic better for the environment?

Plastic – love it, hate it, recycle it or dump it, it is here to stay. The keyboard that I type this on and the chair I sit from are evident of this fact. However, when it comes to bottles and packaging, what are our options, really?

The two most commonly thought of options are plastic bottles and glass containers. Glass is usually thought of as the more environmentally friendly option, and a lot of people associate glass with quality, permanence and an overall better option for the public to use.

However, is this really the case? Is glass always better for us? 

Let’s examine the differences between glass and plastic, and their impact on the environment, ourselves and the economy in this blog post.

 

Glass VS Plastic – The Environment

The general consensus is that plastic is harming the environment to the point of no return. We have addressed this topic in detail in two other blog posts, but is glass any better?

 

Glass is more expensive to recycle

Because of the weight, nature and fragility of glass, it ends up being a lot more difficult to recycle glass than it is plastic. Thus, companies that attempt to do this often end up incurring a higher cost than companies that recycle plastic.

 

Glass takes twice as much energy to produce

If you’re concerned about fossil fuels, air pollution and waste byproducts, glass is not your friend. Plastic byproducts can be grinded into perfectly reusable bottles, pipes and furniture while the reusability of glass is much lower. This would not be a problem, except for the fact that glass takes twice as much energy to produce than plastic!

 

More pollution is created in the manufacture, shipping and recycling of glass

Glass is much heavier than plastic and requires more transport. Additionally, this means it leaves a much larger carbon footprint. In short, it’s better for companies and the environment to stick to plastic bottles where they can.

 

Glass creates more than 6 times the global warming gases than plastic

In its creation and production processes, glass ends up creating 6 times more global warming gasses than plastic. The fossil fuels required to generate the very high temperatures needed to manufacture glass are just one of the considerations. Transport, breakages and other issues contribute to this figure. 

 

Glass VS Plastic – The Economy

 

Glass costs more than plastic

Glass costs more on almost every front when it comes to production. It costs more to produce, ship and recycle than plastic.

 

Glass is more fragile than plastic

Compared to plastic, glass is extremely fragile, with a lot of glass production being broken, chipped or otherwise unusable. Plastic bottles are more reliable and sturdy than glass in production and in retail.

 

Glass becomes weaker after recycling

Plastic is easily recycled and repurposed. While glass may be recycled into other forms, it becomes weaker with each repurpose until it becomes unusable, leaving a lot of wasted potential for companies.

 

Glass VS Plastic – You

Plastic can be shaped more than glass

When it comes to colors, designs and shapes, plastic is the clear winner. Glass is a lot more frigid with shape and style than plastic, and plastic opens up a lot more opportunities for branding, conformity and easy identification than glass.

 

Plastic is not as dangerous as glass

A broken plastic bottle will never cause as much damage as a broken glass bottle, and is less likely to break in your house or in a store, causing a dangerous mess.

 

Plastic is more visible

Because plastic floats, typically stays in form, and is safe to pickup, it is easier for communities to notice and clean up plastic than it is glass pollution. Perhaps the visibility of plastic is the reason why it gets such a bad reputation for the environment.

 

Responsible Plastic

Clearly there are some products that definitely need glass, but plastic is much better for the environment in many cases. As a responsible plastics bottle manufacturer in South Africa, we encourage consumers to recycle their bottles or dispose of them in the proper way. Some of the actions consumers may take to be more responsible with their plastic disposal is to use the correct recycling bin, stay away from multi-material packaging and minimise single use plastics such as straws, cutlery and disposable packaging.

If you’d like to find out more about plastic, the environment or just how it’s made, contact B&I Polycontainers today or check out our other two blogs on the topic.

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Plastics and Recycling – Environmentally Friendly Usage

Plastic and plastic packaging has been at the forefront of the recycling and environmental preservation debate for as long as anyone can remember. The general narrative today is that plastics are damaging and destroying the environment due to careless littering, consumption and reliance on the material.

However, there is another side to the plastics argument that most people do not hear about, and while consumption, littering and plastic reliance must be dealt with responsibly, plastics have been a force for good as well when it comes to recycling. 

This blog post will give you the other side of the argument by exploring how plastics have historically benefited the environment through recycling and plastic timber products.

 

Recycling Is Industry Standard

As mentioned in our previous blog on plastics and the environment, B&I Polycontainers recycles their plastic byproducts and takes their environmental sustainability obligations to the country and society very seriously. Recycling byproducts and other waste material is company policy, and makes sense socially, ethically and financially. 

However, we have yet to speak in detail about where exactly these recycled plastic byproducts go, what they’re used for and why it’s actually helping the environment rather than negatively affecting it.

One of the most popular uses of recycled plastic that most people take for granted is the plastic timber industry.

 

The Deforestation Problem

When is the last time you heard the news talk about ‘deforestation’? Chances are, not very recently.

Deforestation occurs when humans (that’s us) harvest timber from natural forests. This drives the local wildlife and fauna closer to the brink of extinction as they rely on forests for their survival. Due to the sheer number of humans on the planet, growing trees in order to sustain the demand for timber is an unsustainable proposition, and many natural habitats have suffered as a result of uncontrolled deforestation.

Thankfully, this trend has been slowing down in recent years thanks to plastics and recycling.

 

Introducing Plastic Timber

If you take a moment to look around your house, garden and neighborhood you may be surprised to find many items that are made from recycled plastics instead of timber and other resources. 

Chairs, tables, benches, counters, toys, playgrounds and a multitude of other products that previously required a lot of timber now use recycled plastics instead. One of the major components of these recycled products is known as plastic timber.

Plastic timber is a product that is created to function similarly to actual timber and is used in the same manner for the same products. It is used across industries in both the commercial and civilian sectors, from outdoor decks to industrial pallets.

One such company that B&I Polycontainers works with for responsible, eco-friendly plastics production and recycling is Tufflex Plastics Products, who take in plastic bottle waste which they efficiently recycle into plastic timber. These products, which have a wide range of applications are more durable, long lasting and resistant to weather conditions than timber itself!

 

Here are a few benefits that plastic timber enjoys over regular timber

 

  • They do not absorb moisture and hence will not rot;
  • Are very UV resistant and can be left outside indefinitely;
  • Easy to clean with steam or high pressure;
  • Very robust and do not break or splinter easily;
  • Planks have to be screwed together unlike wooden ones which are often nailed – hence they are less prone to coming apart;
  • Items made from plastic timber are heavy and hence are not easy to steal;
  • Low fire risk as they do not burn easily; 
  • As they are not easy to burn they are also not taken as firewood;
  • Resistant to most fuels, oils, chemicals and salt water;
  • Beams or planks can be colour coded if necessary;
  • Do not harbour insects or other contaminants as the plastic is inert;
  • “Environmentally friendly” as they are made from recycled materials that would otherwise go to landfill

 

More About Tufflex

 

Tufflex Plastic Products is a focused plastics recycling business situated in Germiston on the outskirts of Johannesburg. The company processes both post-industrial and post-consumer polyolefin plastic waste, the latter being washed in a state-of-the-art German wash-plant before being converted into pellets for supply back into the converting industry.

In addition to normal recycling Tufflex also produces a comprehensive range of plastic timber which is used as a cost-effective alternative to wood in a variety of applications including furniture, pallets, fencing, dog kennels, dustbins and walkway decking. 

 

Plastic Bottle Production – The Responsible Way

By preserving our environment for the future, we help preserve the future for ourselves. 

As a responsible South African plastic bottle manufacturer, B&I recognises the environmental issues relating to production of plastic products, and has contracts with all major plastic recycling companies to ensure that the scrap is used in a responsible manner and not landfilled or just dumped into our environment.