Glass Bottles: An Ocean-Friendly Alternative to Plastic
Made from all-natural ingredients, glass containers are chemically inert and impermeable, completely and endlessly recyclable, and do not harm oceans or marine life.
This spring, a raft of articles surrounding World Water Day addressed three new studies on the growing issues of microplastics in bottled water and plastic pollution in our oceans.
Microplastics in PET-Bottled Water
The first study, conducted by the State University of New York in Fredonia as part of a project from the U.S.-based journalism organization Orb Media, found tiny pieces of plastic in more than 90% of samples from the world’s most popular water brands bottled in plastic. The study included 259 bottles of water from 11 brands across nine countries. Of all of the bottles tested, only 17 were found to be free of plastic. On average, each liter sold contained 325 pieces of microplastic, including polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate.
As a result of these findings, the World Health Organization announced that it would launch a review of the potential risks of plastic particles in drinking water. While there is currently no evidence that the consumption of microplastic fibers has an impact on human health, it remains an emerging area of scientific concern.
Ocean Plastics Growing at Alarming Rate
The second study found that 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic weighing 80,000 metric tons are currently afloat in an area known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—and the situation is rapidly getting worse. These are the main conclusions of a three-year mapping effort conducted by an international team of scientists affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup foundation, six universities and an aerial sensor company. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
The third study, a UK government report entitled “The Future of the Sea,” finds that ocean plastic is projected to triple within seven years. The report found that human beings across the globe produce more than 300 million metric tons of plastic per year. Unfortunately, a lot of that material ends up in our waters, with the total amount of plastic debris in the sea predicted to increase from 50 million metric tons in 2015 to 150 million metric tons by 2025. Roughly 70% of all marine litter is plastic, and the effect of this non-biodegradable waste can be devastating for marine biodiversity.
What do all these reports have to do with glass bottles? They provide the backdrop to look at our own health, as well as that of our oceans, and choose packaging that can protect both. Made from all-natural ingredients, glass containers are chemically inert and impermeable, completely and endlessly recyclable, and do not harm oceans or marine life.
When consumers and brand owners choose glass packaging for food and beverages, they help reduce the 8 million metric tons of plastics—equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck every minute—that flows into our streams, rivers and waterways every year. A million plastic bottles are bought per minute—91% of which are not recycled.
Glass bottles are largely made of sand and other natural ingredients, so the package is naturally protective, non-toxic, and does not compromise ocean health or marine life. An EcoFocus survey found consumers agree, with 51% rating glass beverage containers as extremely or very eco-friendly, compared to 33% for cans and 25% for plastic.
In addition, the ingredients that make up glass containers are locked in, so they don’t affect or migrate into food or beverages. In fact, glass is the only widely used packaging material that is “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.