The packaging of any product is considered to be its most important element, both to manufactures and the consumer.
It is the primary tool to identify the product.
As the years’ progress, new trends and new materials emerge to make packaging more sustainable, safe and consumer-friendly.
The most significant element in packaging is the material it consists of.
Using inadequate materials for packaging can easily destroy the brand’s identity.
Packaging accounts for the first impression of a customer whenever they shop.
It is not easy to please them.
It is observed that the packaging industry is dominated by plastic packaging, followed by glass.
However, this was not the case from the start.
Plastic has consistently overtaken glass as the most prevalent substitute for the last 50 years or so.
This shift occurred because plastic packaging is lighter than glass, more user-friendly and less accidental.
Glass packaging is more expensive as it costs more transportation expense.
Now there are areas in which glass still seems to be the most functional choice.
Many food items such as jams, pickles, alcoholic beverages, use glass containers.
All these items either contain preservatives that are acidic in nature.
For these products, plastic containers are just not suitable.
Some of these items require vacuum when their seal is closed, which plastic containers cannot provide.
Apart from food products glass is also preferred in the cosmetic industry, as it offers a secure and luxurious containment.
The greatest plus factor that glass maintains is that it is more environmentally friendly.
Both the packaging have their advantages that raise the question of which and why should one be preferred? Over the years, both the manufacturers and consumers have chosen to discuss this issue.
When making this choice, a lot of factors are required to be assessed as both have their own specialty.
In this article, we will address in depth the benefits and flaws of both plastic packaging and glass, which will assist us in forming a decision.
The quality perception of plastic packaging and glass
As said earlier, in the packaging industry, material matters a lot.
From good to bad, there are distinct kinds of plastics and glass rankings.
It is highly dependent on the manufacturer which one he chooses.
When it comes to making packaging with glass, it tends to be costly.
Despite being said that product in glass provides a premium look.
They attract consumers who prefer luxury taste.
Their appearance offers an elegant marketing look.
Also, with glass packaging, the product inside retains its original flavor since glass will not react with anything.
However, glass packaging is not safe to use because it is highly fragile.
It can easily break when it accidentally knocks on the ground, leaving behind a mess.
Also, compared to plastic packaging, glass is more slippery to the touch.
This implies that a plastic container or other packaging material is less probable to be dropped.
It is also an unsafe choice for children to drink out of since the glass may break inside their mouth and harm them.
Other than that, compared to plastic packaging, glass is also more hazardous when broken.
Broken glass can cut the skin of a person and can be life-threatening at times as well.
This is a genuine risk for those who work in factories, stores, and even transportation and packaging operators who are accountable for their handling.
Plastic packaging has the advantage of being available in various sizes and shapes.
They are more durable and user-friendly compared to glass.
Plastic packaging is not easily broken when dropped to the ground.
They are completely safe to be used by children.
Plastic packaging, however, has a flaw when it comes to food.
Plastic packaging is not secure for heating as it will melt and ruin the food inside.
It is also unable to maintain the original flavor of the product inside.
Variation of Characteristics
Versatility is the most important factor in plastic.
This factor is advantageous for plastic packaging because it can be readily molded in any form or size.
While shopping, you can get plastic packaging of an existing item.
Here are just a few examples of plastic packaging where it dominates.
Many food items use this packaging, such as containers for butter, milk, and cereals.
They can be made to withstand certain chemicals, temperatures, impact resistance, etc.
It is, for this reason, they are used for many household items such as detergents.
Many soft drink businesses use this packaging because they are lightweight and unlikely to break.
Also, plastic packaging is unable to absorb water keeping the food inside fresh.
Glass is also available in many different shapes, colors, and sizes.
However, it is not flexible in this region compared to plastic packaging.
Glass provides inertness and impermeability ideal for delicate products.
For this reason, glass packaging is considered best for pharmaceutical sectors to store medicines and spirit.
It does not allow the product to penetrate through its packaging, which is best for fizzing beverages as it keeps the drinks bubbly for a more extended period.
Glass can also withstand high temperatures.
Which costs more?
When talking about expenditure on the packaging, two things come in mind.
One is the cost of production, and the other is the cost of transportation.
Glass is expensive to produce, and this has also been one of the primary reasons why manufacturers are moving from glass to plastic packaging.
Glass requires to be melted before it can be transformed into any shape.
The heat needed for this process is the reason why glass is so costly.
Like its production, the transportation of glass is also expensive.
Since glass is heavy and highly fragile, it must be carefully transported.
This results in higher shipping expenses as more trips are required to transport glass.
Even then, some glass always ends up broken.
This puts the manufacturer in great loss.
Plastic packaging is cheaper to manufacture on hand than glass.
Like glass, melting plastic also needs heat before it can take the required form.
In contrast to glass, plastics melt at reduced heat, meaning that more plastic packaging is generated with the same temperature as glass.
With new technological advancements, producing new plastic packaging is even more cheap and fast.
Since plastic packaging is lightweight, they can be transported in bulk.
Since it cannot easily break, it is preferred to transport it over the glass.
In transportation, plastic packaging stands as a more economically and environmentally friendly option.
For these reasons, the benefits of plastic packaging exceed that of glass in both production and transportation.
Effects on the Environment
Over the past few years, plastic packaging has dominated the market as it provides more benefits than glass.
Consumers have a negative approach to plastic packaging because of the latest occurrences regarding pollution caused by it.
For this reason, people are now starting to prefer glass over plastic packaging.
Both glass and plastic packaging can be recycled.
The difference is, whenever a glass is recycled, its quality is not reduced and it can be washed and sterilized.
The same is not the case with plastic packaging.
The quality of the plastic is compromised whenever it is recycled.
After two or three recycle processes, that plastic is not suitable to be used for any sort.
Although glass can only be recycled into a glass while plastic can be used for other products also.
Since plastic packaging becomes useless after two or three recycles, it finds its way to the landfill sites and sea, therefore, polluting them.
Glass also ends up in the garbage, but glass is biodegradable which means it quickly decomposes.
On the other hand, plastic takes millions of years to break down.
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When dumped to waste locations and oceans, plastic packaging threatens wildlife.
They suffocate and eventually die when they accidentally swallow plastic.
This is becoming a huge concern for consumers these days.
Glass is regarded as the best choice when it comes to a consumer’s health.
This is because it is harmless, and prevents absorption of the product kept in it.
Plastic packaging is produced of chemicals that are dangerous to consume.
This is why they are not suited to contain products for a longer period.
They have the tendency to leach their harmful chemicals into the product it contains.
Glass is regarded as a better option to store organic foods.
Even with all this information, it is impossible to choose either glass or plastic packaging.
Although glass is 100% recyclable, it still uses a lot of energy to undergo this process.
Plastic packaging, on the other hand, is easy and costs less than glass to recycle but loses its worth.
Why consumers prefer plastic packaging?
Despite being a threat to the environment, plastic packaging still stands a firm ground.
The tendency of plastic packaging to satisfy the customers is remarkable.
For food storage plastic packaging is produced to provide ample space for the product.
This allows the customer to purchase food in bulk saving space and sometimes even expenses.
Plastic packaging can be modified to store items that are easily perishable, such as food items with strong essence.
This kind of packaging absorbs the smell and prevents it from spreading, therefore, preserving its aroma and taste.
Plastic packaging enables manufacturers to experiment and create something distinctive that draws customer attention and improves revenues.
Also, it is easier to print something on plastic packaging as compared to glass.
It reduces the cost, which then allows manufacturers to promote their product within the required budget.
Printing logos on glass is more costly, and in this process, many glass containers or bottles break down.
This results in a loss to the manufacturer.
What does the new trend favor?
Some consumers now prefer glass over plastic packaging, and not just because of environmental reasons.
Consumers are attracted by packaging, which is unique in design and grasps their attention.
To satisfy the demand of customers and to gain more revenue, manufacturers are now starting to experiment with glass too.
They are giving glass bottles a vintage design that has been able to captivate a lot of attention.
With new glass designs in the market, the purchase of plastic packaging is decreasing.
Who doesn’t like to smell nice? Glass is best suited for storing fragrance.
Now plastic packaging is not suited for storing fragrance as it may cause it to lose its smell.
As new companies emerge which manufacture perfumes, more glass is required.
Glass containers preserve the aroma by preventing any of it to escape and any air to enter the vessel.
When more food products were manufactured, the trend in packaging shifted from glass to plastic packaging as it was cheaper to produce.
However, with time, it was realized that foods were losing their essence if they were kept for longer periods in plastic packaging.
This caused once again the trend to shift from plastic packaging to glass.
Glass container, however expensive, kept the food inside fresh for a longer period.
Like perfumes, medicines can only be effective if they are packed into something which doesn’t absorb its effect.
It is for this reason only; glass is used to pack them.
With new illness emerging from every corner, more people are getting sick and to treat them, more medicines are been manufactured.
Glass dominates this area.
The conclusion we have reached in our discussion on plastic packaging vs glass is that it really depends on the item you are going to package.
When it comes to packaging food items glass is considered the best option as it keeps the product fresh for a longer period of time, while plastic packaging is user-friendly and is safe to handle.
If companies find a way to reduce transportation costs, you could say that glass is more environmentally friendly than plastic.
However, if more people end up recycling plastic, it may be more eco-friendly than glass.
Because even if the plastic quality is degraded after recycling, it can still be used for other sectors to profit.
Both plastic packaging and glass have their drawbacks; it all depends on what you want to choose and which product you want to select.
It also depends on how much money you want to spend; Whether you are into something which looks luxurious or something which is easier to use.