glass or plastic?

8 Aug

i had the choice at lunch today to buy my juice in a plastic bottle, or a glass one. lead me to wonder which really is better for the environment? is one easier to break down than the other?

glass:

Glass is an inert substance and so is not directly harmful to the environment but it is not degradable … but glass is such an easy and very useful material which can be recycled over and over again without any loss to quality. (http://ezinearticles.com/?Recycling-Plastic-And-Glass—Why-It-Makes-A-Difference&id=544286)

Recycling glass is a relatively good energy saver. Using recycled glass to make new glass products requires 40 percent less energy than making it from new materials. It saves energy because crushed glass, called cullet, melts at a lower temperature than the raw materials used to make glass.

recycled cullets (broken down bits of glass) can be turned into new glass bottles. “Recycling glass into new containers has four main environmental benefits – energy saving, lower emissions, reduced landfill and a reduction in quarrying.” (http://www.wasteonline.org.uk/resources/InformationSheets/Glass.htm)
New glass is made from sand, soda ash, and limestone thus its a common makeup for all glass products (only thing that changes is when manufacturers add colour to the glass)…
plastics:
plastics are a combination of many materials, creating many different types of plastics
“Even if the plastic is sorted by type, unlike glass, aluminum, and steel which can be recycled over and over again, plastic cannot.

There are so many different types of plastics, once shredded mixed plastics and hard to recycle plastics are ground up and added as filler materials.

recycled plastics are not turned into other plastic containers, but items requiring low-grade plastics such as park benches cannot be made into milk jugs again or even into new benches. Also, most recycled plastic are used to produce items, such as polyester and plastic lumber, that are not themselves recyclable.” (http://www.tufts.edu/tuftsrecycles/metal.html)

Recycling Coding Abbreviation Name of Polymer Common Uses of Recycled Product
01 PET / PETE Polyethylene terephthalate Polyester fibres, soft drink bottles.
02 HDPE High density polyethylene Bottles, plastic carrier bags, recycling bins.
03 PVC / V Polyvinyl chloride Pipe, fencing, non-food bottles.
04 LDPE Low density polyethylene Plastic bags, containers, dispensing bottles.
05 PP Polypropylene Auto parts, industrial fibres.
06 PS Polystyrene Coffee cups, toys, video cassettes.
07 OTHER Other Plastics Various.

(http://www.environment-green.com/Plastic_Recycling.html)

we are surrounded by plastic. only 3-5% of manufactured plastics are actually reaching recycling plants. Much of the rest goes into landfills, where it takes 200 years to decompose.

Right now we consume the contents of about 70 million water bottles a day. That’s 70 million mostly plastic bottles, 86 % of which end up in landfills (http://www.wcdish.com/time-to-stop-sucking/)

if it bores you to read a page of facts i will break it down … plastic is ‘friendlier’ to produce, but cannot be recycled into new plastic containers because of the other materials added. glass is recyclable indefinitely, and in fact recycling glass uses 40% less energy than if they combined new materials.

i choose glass. for now.

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