• Nihira Prakash

Glass Pollution

While we've been urging people to stop using single-use plastic products and limit plastic pollution to protect the environment and the ecosystem, a study which was published in the Journal for Waste Resources and Residues said that glass products and bottles are more harmful to the environment than plastic bottles!

While cardboard cartons used for packaging fruit juices and aluminum cans are the most eco-friendly and harmful products respectively, glass bottles that are composed of both virgin materials as well as the so-called 100% recycled components are in fact considerably even more harmful and impactful on the environment than plastic bottles.

Every 30 days, we discard off such a huge lot of glass bottles as well as glass jars enough to fill up, let's say, a tall skyscraper!

It leads to 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution as compared to when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

Under natural conditions and circumstances, the glass bottles made of the material we use today would take almost 4000 years or even more to get decomposed, and probably even longer if they're in the landfills.

So how does glass pollution actually impact the environment?

The major impacts of glass pollution include atmospheric emissions that are very harmful, from melting processes. The combustion of fuel and the degradation of raw materials during the melting of glass leads to a high amount of emission of carbon dioxide gas. Carbon dioxide gas is the only greenhouse gas that is produced during the process of glass production.

Also, we hear about the glass being recycled but did you know that drinking glasses, other objects made of glass, and even window glass can't be replaced with recyclable glass? This is because all of them have a different molecular structure and thus varied chemical properties. They all melt at different temperatures. On the other hand, recyclable bottles and containers are easier to recycle as they are similar in terms of molecular structure and melting points. The broken drinking glasses which aren't recyclable simply go into the trash stream.

But pure glass form consists mainly of silica. Silica is a natural raw substance that resembles sand. This form of glass is unlikely to pollute nature or even affect human health conditions. So, they can easily be recycled. It is widely accepted as a recyclable material all over the world.

Lastly, complete bans on plastic bags or glass (in the near future) may not be the best solution, but education and incentives to get people to stop using them are necessary :)