Is Glass, Paper and Metal Packaging Better in Terms of Carbon Footprint than Plastic?
The world is cyclical. Once upon a time, renewable sources were the go-to option for packaging, whether it was bottles or shopping bags. However, this has now changed due to the convenience of plastic.
Now, we are shifting back to natural materials to save the planet, but is glass, paper and metal packaging better in terms of carbon footprint than plastic? Today, we will look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Glass, paper and metal packaging are considered by many to be the zero waste dream team. But despite this reputation, they are not perfect.
Glass is completely recyclable, which saves precious energy resources. Creating recycled glass goods uses less energy than it starts from scratch. Recycled glass is turned into new water bottles, food cans, insulation and other building materials.
The drawback with glass is that it is always heavy and difficult to carry — often times, bottles have to move further to reuse plants (depleting large amounts of energy).
If you are recycling paper, it has to be clean. When recycling paper, remove any plastic wrapping from newspapers or magazines as this can be recycled along with plastic.
Things You Should Know When Recycling Paper:
You don't have to take staples from your containers, acrylic frames, spirals. When the paper is turned to pulp these get squeezed out.
Dirty or greasy paper, including napkins cannot be recycled
Laminated or waxed paper is typically not allowed
Thermal paper such as fax paper cannot be recycled
Flatten your cardboard boxes before recycling them
Each year more than 400 million tonnes of metal are recycled, processing ferrous and non-ferrous metal scrap into useful secondary raw materials for smelting new metals.
The main recyclable products for metal include aluminum, such as cans, auto parts, windows, doors and appliances. It also includes steel products such as tin cans, auto parts, appliances and bridge parts. The benefits of recycling these two metals include - aluminum and steel can be recycled again and again, you can visit a scrap metal recycling facility and get paid for what you bring, it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, decreases environmental damage and causes less land and water pollution.
There are many advantages to glass, paper and metal packages such as they are easy to repurpose, it has a minimal effect on the environment and glass and mental are endlessly recyclable. However, this type of packaging does have its disadvantages such as glass takes a long time to manufacture, metal has a larger carbon footprint and not all manufacturing processes adhere to the same rules.
Plastic is really useful and we use it every day. However, despite having a lot of fans at first, opinions have turned against plastic recently. There is too much of it in the ocean and the wild, in particular, it is single-use plastics that are the problem.
Plastic packaging serves several important functions in our modern lives, which are the primary reasons we rely on it such as preventing waste, not as brittle as glass or paper and it is much lighter than glass, paper and metal.
However, due to the world cutting down on plastic due to problems such as the world’s ocean crisis - plastic packaging has major disadvantages such as it takes a long time to degrade, transporting plastic can have worse effects than manufacturing it and plastic is mostly Non-renewable.
To reduce the amount of plastic we use everyday, we now pay between 5-20p for plastic carrier bags, a number of cafes and restaurants have swapped to biodegradable coffee cups and have started using paper straws, as well as some supermarkets looking at ways to make their packaging easier to recycle or even plastic free.
The Whole Package
In terms of the carbon footprint, there are benefits to both but also disadvantages. However, it’s better to reduce reliance on single-use items and instead start embracing products that use recycled content. You can’t eliminate single-use entirely, but you can start putting a dent in it by investing in reusable products.