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HDPE and Glass Environmental Impact

 
Lee Morgan
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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What is the environmental impact of HDPE plastic (5 gallon bucket) vs. Glass Jars?
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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In what context?
 
Lee Morgan
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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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As in the method of creating products. Does glass production produce massive amounts of waste? As opposed to creating HDPE Plastics? I was thinking of what would be better to buy plastic food grade buckets or mason jars?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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I TRUST glass more for food than plastic..myself..
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Brenda Groth wrote:I TRUST glass more for food than plastic..myself..


Same. Not sure what fuel is used for the heating method for melting either material and how much heat is required though. That probably accounts for a lot of it. But glass uses far fewer chemicals in their process.
 
tel jetson
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my guess is that glass uses far more energy to manufacture than HDPE. I wouldn't be surprised if it were magnitudes more.

the chemicals involved are a whole other issue, though. most energy sources involve releasing pollutants of some kind, or otherwise damaging ecosystems, which complicates things.

HDPE is fairly simple to break down with fungus, and glass eventually returns to harmless dust (assuming lead wasn't an ingredient). HDPE does frequently end up as small particles in the ocean causing serious problems. that's an avoidable problem, but a real one. glass is much easier to break, so it breaks more often. plenty of glass ends up in landfills.

I also favor glass, but I don't think treating it as more "eco" is an easily defensible position.
 
Benjamin Bouchard
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Another question is how spread out the net damage is. A higher concentration in one place can be more immediately detrimental than damage spread over a wide area.
 
Yone' Ward
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Location: Springdale, WA USA - Cold Mediterranean Climate
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Glass, if chosen and used wisely, can last longer than you do. This does much to reduce the pollution generated per year over it's life cycle. How long will the HDPE last?

Glass, when broken, is essentially just a fancy rock. It could be disposed of anywhere that it won't cut something important. Plastic, regardless of whether it is burned or left to be destroyed by the sun, will release pollution into the air, it's just a matter of a different rate. Burying the stuff probably preserves it for future archaeologists.

Glass can be recycled by melting it down and reforming into something useful. HDPE apparently can be treated the same way, but probably needs to be recycled more frequently due to longevity issues.

As far as I know, Glass containers emit no chemicals into it's contents, while at least some plastics do.

I would say choose plastic if it's a disposable item, but stick to glass if you intend on reusing it.
 
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