According to a study by Ecochain, a Dutch company that conducts life cycle assessments, plastic bottles are more eco-friendly than glass bottles if they are managed properly.
What is Life Cycle Assessment?
“Life Cycle Assessment” is a method that examines the environmental impact of packaging throughout its life cycle from extraction of natural resources to the final disposal. The whole life cycle analysis is more accurate than an analysis that examines only a part of the product lifecycle such as resource mining.
Life cycle assessment of plastic bottle vs. glass bottle for apple juice
Ecochain conducted the life cycle assessment of an apple juice glass bottle compared to an apple juice PET bottle. The assessment found that, on a kilogram basis, the sourcing of raw materials and the production of glass bottles generate less environmental impact than plastic bottles. However, a glass bottle can weigh as much as 40 times more than a plastic bottle. Thus, a glass bottle requires more material and energy for transportation than that of a plastic bottle. Moreover, glass bottles have more breakage during the product distribution, creating wastage. All of the factors combined make plastic bottles more environmentally friendly than glass bottles.
Plastic bottles are more eco-friendly if we recycle them.
This assessment assumes that 50% of PET is recycled and the rest is incinerated. The same assessment assumes that used glass bottles are sorted, collected, and processed into new glass bottles. Thus, stressing the importance of proper management of the “end-of-product life-cycle”. The conclusion would have been different if we assume that the bottles leak into landfills or nature as their carbon footprint would have increased.
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