The first glass bottles were made around 1500 BC in Mesopotamia, and over thousands of years since then glass has proved itself to be a versatile and resilient packaging material.
Today the urgent issue of global packaging pollution and the threat it poses to our planet leads us all to think more carefully about how we can protect the environment for future generations. Plastic waste is certainly making headlines right now: while filming his second BBC series of Blue Planet, Sir David Attenborough and his team were shocked by the amount of plastic filling our oceans. Since the series finale was aired the issue has become a top priority, not just in the UK but overseas too.
At Beatson Clark we have always advocated the message that glass is more sustainable, more recyclable and more environmentally friendly than any other packaging material. We’re delighted that more and more people and organisations are now coming around to our way of thinking.
So how can the packaging industry become more sustainable? And what can brands do ensure their packaging is kind to the environment? In many cases the best packaging material is glass. It’s a natural product with a heritage stretching back thousands of years, and one which is both completely safe and 100% recyclable. A recent study found that consumers across Europe rank glass as the most environmentally friendly packaging product, and 45% of them choose products in glass containers because of their green credentials. Human societies have used glass containers for thousands of years, and it’s good to know that glass is still as friendly to the environment as it’s always been.
There are four main reasons why glass is so kind to the environment:
- It can be recycled forever
Glass is 100% infinitely recyclable, and it doesn’t diminish in strength or quality no matter how many times you melt glass down and start again. Glass is easily recycled thanks to council doorstep collections and bottle banks. Glass manufacturing creates very little waste as any internally generated cullet (waste glass) is immediately recycled through the furnaces to make new glass bottles and jars.
- The majority of glass contains recycled materials
Because glass is relatively easy to collect and recycle, the glass industry uses a high proportion of recycled materials in its manufacturing process. At Beatson Clark our amber glass contains approximately 40% cullet on average, while our white flint glass contains approximately 30% cullet.
- Glass is good for you
Unlike many other packaging materials, glass is inert. It is the only packaging material that doesn’t require an extra layer of protection to keep food and drinks safe, and it contains no harmful chemicals that might leach into the product and contaminate it.
- Making glass from recycled material uses less energy
Because cullet melts at a lower temperature than raw materials, the amount of energy needed to melt recycled glass is considerably less than that needed to make new bottles and jars from raw materials. Recycling one bottle can save enough energy to power a television for an hour and a half!
At our glassworks in South Yorkshire, where we have been manufacturing glass bottles and jars for over 260-years, we have our own dedicated recycling plant. We work closely with our local council and can rely on a supply of recyclable glass from kerbside collections, which goes towards the recycled content of our products. We work hard to spread the message that people should recycle more glass. Every year the average UK family consumes around 500 glass bottles or jars, but as a nation our track record of recycling glass is not as good as in other countries. Our current figure of around 50% is a long way behind some nations – Switzerland and Finland, for example, recycle more than 90% of their glass – so we must all do more to recycle glass and protect the planet.
As a packaging material with a long history and an impeccable track record, glass should be seen as the perfect packaging material for many food, drink and pharmaceutical products.
If you’re a food or drink producer, now is the time to switch to glass. To find out more about Beatson Clark’s general sale range or our bespoke design service, call 01709 828141 or email email@example.com.