The Short Version: We refuse to use a product that is not biodegradable (doesn’t break down after a certain point). Furthermore, as plastic is composed of major toxic pollutants, it has the potential to cause significant harm to the environment in the form of air, water, and land pollution
The (Very) Long Version: Making the choice to switch from plastic to glass packaging may seem like an obvious one. Plastic has, in many respects quite rightly, earned itself a bad reputation, and is increasingly seen as a material that we must move away from at all costs.
1) Plastic is made from oil
Little more needs to be said on this point – it is clear that ceasing all use of fossil fuels imminently is essential.
However, glass is made from sand dredged from river and ocean beds, which decimates habitats and disrupts marine ecosystems.
Plastic leaches toxic chemicals into the contents of the bottle, then again into the earth/air as it degrades/is incinerated, and off-gasses throughout its entire life cycle. Plastic also degrades into microplastics, which are yet another major issue that we have to face.
Glass is non-reactive and non-porous, leaching no chemicals into what is contained within it, or into the earth/air.
Plastic can only be recycled a few times, as each time it is recycled it degrades, and so really is only able to be downcycled before ultimately becoming a waste product.
Glass can be reused, and then recycled indefinitely back into the same quality bottle as it was before.
4) Recycling rates
The average recycling rate for plastic in the UK is 59%.
The rate for glass is 76.5% making is significantly more likely to actually be recycled when it isn’t able to be reused
6) Psychological/behavioural impact
A survey carried out by YouGov concluded that a large percentage of the British public have feelings of guilt around using single use plastic, which is motivating them to actively seek out more sustainable alternatives.
We have found that as this switch is made, and awareness of different purchasing options and their impacts increases, this tends to have a domino effect within people’s lives, influencing the quality of their choices overall.
7) Impact of payload on fuel consumption
Probably the most compelling argument in support of the use of plastic over glass is the simple fact that glass is so much heavier, and therefore uses so much more fuel to transport it when compared with plastic. A full 1L bottle of our Plantmilk is, for example, approx. 30% heavier than a Tetrapak alternative.
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study estimates that vehicle weight reductions of 35% could reduce fuel consumption by 12 to 20%;
However, we use an electric van powered by renewable energy for our local deliveries. As EV tech advances, battery and electrical components become more efficient and less impactful, we will switch to a fully electric fleet for all wholesale and home deliveries, which will mitigate to a large
extent the payload/fuel consumption issue.
In conclusion, it seems that a lot of the impact made by packaging materials on the whole is dependent on our interaction with them, rather than the materials themselves. It is our intention to create the opportunity for our customers to engage in a movement towards truly sustainable, and regenerative Plantmilk production and purchasing.
After considering all of the factors, we feel that glass is, at present, the best packaging option for us to achieve this. Glass carries with it the potential for responsible, repeated use, whilst plastic bottles and Tetrapaks are, at best, only ever able to be recycled a few times, don’t lend themselves well to reuse, and are far more toxic to us and to the environment.