Glass Packaging: The Pros and Cons

Glass is a ubiquitous packaging material that has been used for many years, especially in the food and beverage industries, so let’s take a look at its pros and cons. You’ve almost definitely sipped a cold drink from a glass bottle and can easily recall how it felt as it sat in your hand. Glass offers a distinct aesthetic and many exciting advantages, but it isn’t perfect. Before selecting it as your primary container or packaging material, it’s necessary to understand the benefits and detriments that come along with using glass.

Keeps Your Ingredients Fresh 

There’s a significant reason why glass is so commonly utilized for food and beverage packaging. It offers a non-porous, non-toxic surface that has a high rate of impermeability and won’t leech any contaminants into your snacks or drinks, which is an unfortunate possibility when using plastic containers. This makes glass an excellent material for liquids that might be stored for long periods of time, such as wine or liquor, as it retains the flavor of your edible goods. It also maintains scents and carbonation very well, making it a great choice for items like perfume, seltzer water, or soda.  

Glass Can Get Costly 

For some, maintaining ingredient freshness for extended amounts of time isn’t very important. That along with the higher cost of glass may make it an impractical solution for packaging or bottling, especially when plastic is less expensive. These increased costs are generally due to the energy that goes into manufacturing glass, as well as the fact that it is heavier and more fragile than plastic, making it more expensive to ship.  

A Premium Feeling and Aesthetic 

There’s something to be said for the way your customers feel when they use your products, and glass offers a distinct sense of luxury. Because glass has been such a popular packaging method for so long, it often evokes a vintage or retro feeling. When a customer grips the smooth, cool texture of a glass bottle, their feelings will be much different than when they hold a simple plastic bottle. Consumers frequently perceive glass as providing a more pleasant, premium, and classic experience.  

Shipping and Transit Troubles 

A compelling downside to glass containers that many, if not all, of us have experienced personally is just how fragile it is. As soon as a glass slips out of your hand or gets knocked off the counter, you’re left with a big and careful cleanup to ensure no shards are left on the floor. The same is true for the shipping process. Because this material is so delicate, it can’t be packed into a transit container as tightly as plastic or aluminum, which means that fewer items can be included on one shipment. Between this and the fact that it weighs more than plastic or aluminum, shipping costs are much higher for glass bottles or containers than they are for their counterparts.  

Glass is Fully Recyclable 

While plastic is also recyclable, glass offers a few exceptional advantages in terms of environmental friendliness. Consumers can recycle 100% of all glass materials and the product will not lose any integrity or quality when it is eventually repurposed into a new item, while plastic goods lose much of their strength and integrity once they are turned into something new. Additionally, glass bottles and packaging can be washed, sterilized, and reused repeatedly by consumers themselves.  

The Carbon Footprint of Glass Manufacturing 

The manufacturing that goes into producing glass containers and packages requires ample amounts of heat and is highly energy intensive. This means that the actual carbon footprint of glass manufacturing is generally larger than that of plastic, even though glass is completely recyclable. Furthermore, only about 34% of all glass containers actually make their way to the recycling bin. When glass products end up in a landfill instead, it can take as long as one million years for them to fully decompose.  

Is Glass Packaging Right for You? 

Ultimately, you as a seller or retailer need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of glass packaging for your specific products. Is recyclability most important to you or would you rather save costs on shipping? Carefully weigh each consideration, examine your budget, and keep in mind what kind of brand image you would like to project to your customer base. Glass containers and packaging are an outstanding choice for many goods and retailers, but may not be the ideal fit for everyone.