Glass or Plastic, Which is More Green?


In the 1970’s plastic bottles didn’t exist. Then one day, there they were. The plastics industry convinced us that they saved fuel because they were lighter to transport, and didn’t have to go back to the bottling plant to “waste water” and get washed. What were we thinking.

Today we are in a very different place. Outside of the US, glass is still readily available as a beverage container. While glass use is on the rise, re-use isn’t. People go to Costco just for “Mexican Coke” with “Real Sugar”. I don’t want to get into that fight, but isn’t sugar, just carbs no matter where it comes from?

As a kid I used to like keeping all my dad’s bottles and taking them to the store for a nickel. Gas was about 50 cents a gallon. Doing the math I could save ten bottles and buy a gallon of gas. Oh the places I imagined I could go. Now, 50 years later we still get a nickel a bottle in “CRV” in California. Plastic is piling up at recycling centers with no where to go. Some might say “who knew”. The sad truth is we all knew, but we wanted cheaper soda and bought into the plastic story to get it.

The next generation will pay the price. I have started drinking more Topo-Chico and Gerolsteinter carbonated waters. Both come in glass bottles. Yes shipping costs more, but glass is one of the easiest materials to produce, use, reuse and recycle. Never mind that it is also the most environmentally friendly if it does make it to the land fill or get tossed in a river.

Maybe someday we will stop being “efficient” and be a bit more environmentally responsible with re-usable glass bottles instead of plastic.