While we may call it “a glass of water,” glass isn’t the only material used for drinkware. Plastic is a popular alternative that has swiftly taken over the market. But which material is actually the best for your drinkware? We’re dissecting the battle of glass vs plastic to help you decide what material is best for you, your customers, and your industry.
The obvious answer is that glass is made from natural materials while plastic is synthetic, so glass is better than plastic for the planet, right? Well, the truth is not so cut and dry. Here’s our breakdown:
Glass: Made from silica, a natural material found in the earth, glass is recyclable and doesn’t leave micro-plastics behind the way plastic can. According to an article by BBC Future, glass can be infinitely recycled without affecting the quality, and can even be recycled back into sand for coastal restoration projects.
But what happens when a product hits the trash is just part of its impact on the planet. As the BBC Future article further explains, the mining of silica (sand) for glass causes damage to the surrounding environment through loss of bio-diversity and the destruction of habitats. It is also is dangerous for miners, often resulting in human rights violations and health concerns such as silicosis, a condition caused by inhaling silica particles into the lungs.
On top of that, glass also leaves a greater carbon footprint during production, requiring higher temperatures to form and releasing more greenhouse gases.
Plastic: Microplastics, forever particles, all dangers associated with plastic. But does plastic have to be the evil planet-killer everyone assumes it is? Not necessarily. Plastic can be made from a wide variety of materials, from recycled plastics (RPET) to organic material like wheat straw, food waste, and even elephant poop! Plastic can also be made bio-degradable, recyclable, and with lower carbon emissions, depending on who is making it and how. Despite the stigma, when manufactured responsibly to create reusable products, plastic can be an excellent resource for drinkware.
So, is glass environmentally friendly? Is plastic a planet killer? The answers all lie with the manufacturers. If protecting the planet is a priority for your company, then don’t worry glass vs plastic, because either one can be beneficial or harmful. Instead, focus on researching how the materials are manufactured, what steps the manufacturer takes to mitigate negative impacts, and what will happen to the products at the end of their usable lifecycle.
Looking for products that keep the planet in mind? Check out our collection of products that are recycled, sustainable, or responsibly sourced. You can also learn more about RPET plastic products and their benefits on our other blog post.
For parents especially, glass products conjure mental images of broken glass. So plastic is the only safe option, right?
Wrong. Both glass and plastic have the potential to crack and shatter, and both have ways of countering that. Here are two types of drinkware material, one glass and one plastic, featured on our site for their shatter-resistant abilities:
Borosilicate glass: Have you ever put a glass container in the freezer, taken it out, microwaved it, and then had to pick broken glass out of your food? As glass expands or contracts in response to heat or cold, different areas can heat at different rates and shatter. Borosilicate glass is designed to fight this problem by being made to handle extreme temperatures without cracking or shattering. This extra durable glass is the type you’ll often see in bakeware and many types of glassware.
Tritan™ plastic: Made to be shatter-resistant (among other features), Tritan plastic is made to be a durable, lightweight alternative to glass and even to other, less durable plastics. Perfect for wild adventures and toddlers (same thing, really,) Tritan drinkware is an excellent option for anyone who has high expectations of durability for their products.
The glass vs plastic eco stigma isn’t the only thing that makes glass so popular today. For example, have you ever wondered, “why do drinks taste better in a glass than in a plastic bottle?” While plastic can absorb and release tastes and odors into your drink (except Tritan plastic,) glass offers a smooth, nonporous surface that is easy to clean and a consistent taste, perfect for high-value, flavorful drinks. Reader’s Digest even highlights the flavor-keeping benefits of glass in their article, citing that the non-porous properties of glass even keep fizzy drinks fresh and fizzy for longer.
But tastes and odors aren’t the only thing being released into your cup when you use plastic. Even with BPA-free plastics, there is always the risk of chemicals and particles being released into your food or drink when you heat up plastic. Glass, on the other hand, stays intact no matter how many times you send it through the microwave. That’s why glass is also a major part of the consumer movement for better health. Health drinks are now often served in glass bottles, and clean-eating enthusiasts are stocking their shelves with glass mugs, jugs, jars, and more in place of plastic-ware.
Still not sure what you want for your brand? Here are some of the important factors to consider when choosing between glass vs plastic.
Do you love glass? There are a lot of places where glass can give your brand that classy boost it needs to really impress your customers. Here are just a few types of branded glassware you can implement into your business and your gifting starting now:
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