Recycling Competition: Glass vs. Plastic

Let the ultimate recycling challenge begin!  When we discuss environmental benefits of materials we must also consider the recycling capabilities.  Here are some things that I have discovered.

When glass is recycled it uses less energy than manufacturing glass from sand, lime and soda.  With this said every tonne of waste glass that is recycled into new items saves us 315 kg of carbon dioxide! Glass 1 Plastic 0

When glass is recycled it has nearly infinite possibilities for secondary uses.  Plastics have a high molecular weight. Bottom line- heating plastic alone is not enough to dissolve a large molecule so plastics must be with as close to the same plastic as possible in order to mix efficiently.  If you think of how many plastic items you have in your home and categorize them into the 7 Plastic Identification Codes (normally found at the bottom of product) and then categorize them by color you will see how difficult it can be to match plastics up for recycling. Glass 2 vs. Plastic 0

Due to the recycling capabilities of glass it reduces the volumes of waste sent to landfills (when everyone ensures they actually recycle instead of tossing it in the garbage). While the different types of plastic can sometimes be separated it often weakens the plastic too much to be used for all applications. Glass 3 Plastic 0

 

When a recycling program says that they will accept glass into their program they do not have a large list of exceptions. When a recycling program accepts plastics they often have a large list of plastic products that cannot be accepted.  Please contact your local recycling program for more information on what they will take! Glass 4 Plastic 0

I am starting to feel like I need to give plastic a point!  I really did research this using my best unbiased frame of mind.  I did find that some manufacturers are starting to use biodegradable plastics.  Unfortunately only a small amount of biodegradable plastics are able to degrade without emitting harmful chemicals into the environment.  Another problem with biodegradable plastic is that it becomes somewhat mummified in landfills and can take decades to degrade.  Hmmm. Judges? Glass 4 Plastic 0


You know what; I think we are going to call this one a shutout.  Stay tuned for the next recycling competitions between team Glass and team Plastic.

Final score: Glass 4 Plastic 0