Sunday, January 10, 2010

Is Glass Packing Best for the Environment?

Beverage Daily today published an article titled 'Glass Packing is Best for the Environment'. While the article does contain some interesting facts, it is however based on a study conducted by the EU Association for Container Glass. 2 countries that have the most successful glass recycling systems in place are Belgium and Sweden with close to 100% of their glass jars and bottles that were put on the market, being collected for recycling.

Responsible beverage manufacturers do regularly ask the question, is glass better for the environment? Based on extensive studies, the answer is yes. But is it a practical solution for 3rd world or West African market place? The cost of manufacturing glass bottles is more expensive as is distribution. The recycling process is also costly and bottles have to be collected from various vendors. Transporting bottles to rural areas takes trucks over some rough roads which inevitably leads to breakages. Glass is also more heavy in areas where goods are transported over long distances by manual labor.

While both Sweden and France have some of the best drinking water available from their taps, they also boast the most sophisticated glass bottle and jar recycling systems. But in places like Africa where there is a greater demand for packaged food and beverages, there are few facilities to deal with the rubbish left over. It is still evident that the recycling technology available in the America's and Europe has not even begun to trickle down to Africa, while large beverage manufacturers can still take advantage of the loose carbon and waste emission laws. It seems to me that the question is not really weather PET or glass is better, but rather, what else have we got?