Why we use plastic, double-walled jars (and not glass)
Multiple factors play into our packaging choices. Suitability, environmental impact, aesthetic appeal, affordability, durability and continuous supply. When we first weighed Glass -V- Plastic in each category, glass was the overall winner, although plastic was certainly more affordable and more durable. Glass was suitable, aesthetically appealing, reusable, recyclable, and easily sourced. So why did we end up deciding to go with double-walled plastic jars for our re-brand?
The journey started 5 months ago (February of 2018). Having thought of glass as the easy winner, we started looking up sources to confirm our instincts. The first was using the input-output assessment tool created by Carnegie Mellon University to compare the environmental costs of manufacturing glass packaging and plastic. Manufacturing glass packaging is more energy intensive and produces more greenhouse gas than plastic packaging, many times over! We never expected such an immense difference.
If you're like us, the first thought you had is 'these initial high inputs for making glass packaging must certainly be offset by the ability to reuse and recycle!' And they are. The only problem is, glass recycling that is not monetized (like our empty beer bottles) is quickly becoming less feasible for many municipal jurisdictions.
The economic and environmental costs associated with collecting, sorting, shipping, and processing recycled glass are seen as negating any potential benefit. Here is a great release from a US city detailing these issues. We knew we didn't have access to local glass recycling, and that our two home provinces didn't even track glass as a material being diverted from landfills. We also knew that glass was less durable during shipping, was not collapsible like the paper bags we will be putting our salts in, and increased environmental and economic costs during transportation to us and to our customers. Sadly. We realized that for us, glass was not the most environmentally friendly choice.
But. Both provinces did track the recycling of plastics. We knew we had access to plastic recycling in both locations. And so, given all that we had learned, we moved towards plastic. We chose a double-walled jar for a few reasons, with the biggest being that the two molding processes create an inner air pocket that helps the products inside become resistant to environmental temperatures and cool much more quickly. This helps to ensure our customer is getting and using the best product possible. The plastics used in the packaging are easily recyclable in most jurisdictions, and are far more environmentally friendly to ship.
In short, when you are able to reuse glass (in the home, restaurants, resorts, hotels, etc.), it is the easy choice. When you are limited in your ability to recycle or reuse glass packaging, it becomes far more of an environmental detriment than its' plastic or paper counterparts.