People are increasingly aware of the loss of plastic waste to wildlife, and many would avoid buying single-use plastics if they could help it. But are plastic alternatives better?
Let’s look at an example – Fizzy drinks. You may believe that plastic bottles are the least green option, but is that always the case?
To know this, we Comparison Five different types of pressurized beverage containers. We have tested their environmental impacts according to several criteria, each contributing to climate change and each causing pollution during manufacture, use, and disposal.
Here they are ranked from worst to best.
Fifth place: glass bottles
This may come as a surprise, but the glass bottles actually ranked last in our analysis. You can instinctively reach for a glass bottle to avoid buying the plastic substitute, but glass takes more resources and energy to produce. Glassmaking involves the mining of raw materials such as silica sand and dolomite, and can release pollution that can occur when inhaled. Pulmonary status silicosis.
Our analysis found that most natural resources were used in glass bottle production, due to the sheer volume of the material. A glass bottle of one liter can weigh up to 800 grams, while a plastic bottle weighs about 40 grams. The extra weight means that vehicles transporting glass bottles consume more fossil fuels to deliver the same amount of liquid. For these reasons, we found that glass bottles have about 95% larger contribution to global warming than aluminum cans.
Fourth place: recycled glass bottles
If a regular glass bottle is the worst, then surely made from 100% recycled glass is much better, right? Unfortunately no.
Some energy is saved In recycling rather than extracting, processing and transporting raw materials. But recycling glass still uses a a lot of energy Due to the high temperature it needed to be melted. More energy means more greenhouse gas emissions, and during this process, the glass can re-release carbon dioxide.
In Britain, the Recycling rate For glass is 67.6%. In order to be self-sufficient in the production of glass bottles by recycling the glass alone, it has to be improved.
Third place: plastic bottles
Third place is plastic bottle. Plastics have drink-rich properties. It is strong, resistant to chemicals (so the ingredients in your drink do not degrade plastic), and it is lighter, meaning more can be transported through lower emissions. This gave plastic significantly less impact on global warming than glass in our analysis.
Plastic recycling requires less energy due to the low temperatures involved in melting the raw materials. But unlike plastic, glass or aluminum, it cannot be recycled endlessly. Each time it is recycled, the chain of plastic-forming molecules is truncated. All plastics reach a point when it can no longer be recycled and therefore destined for landfill, incineration, or the environment.
Second place: aluminum cans
Second place is aluminum cans. We found that they contribute less to global warming than glass and plastics because they consume less energy and resources. Cans are lighter than glass and are not made of fossil fuels like plastic.
Cans also contribute less like environmental problems, due to the processes involved in making them. acid rain And Oxygen free zone In the ocean. This is because more electricity is required to make glass and plastic, and so it generates more sulfur dioxide pollution on average – a major cause of acid precipitation. Making glass and plastics, and extracting materials to make them (especially soda ash for glass production), also release more phosphate into the environment, which can overload oxygen from rivers and coastal seas and waters.
But aluminum has its own environmental effects. Making it involves refining the bauxite ore and mining the bauxite. Polluted water It is sour in Australia, Malaysia, and its countries including India. Rivers and sediments The health of people and wildlife is threatened near mines contaminated with heavy metals.
First place: recycled aluminum cans
Recycled aluminum cans were the least environmentally harmful single-use container that we saw. Aluminum can be recycled continuously with no change in properties. Recycling an aluminum can save 95% energy used There is no need to mine and transport any new material to make a new can.
But aluminum is not always recycled. UK recycling rate for aluminum packaging Is only 52%. This should be greatly improved to recycling the main supply of new coaches.
Even though some of these containers are better than others, they all have an environmental impact. The best option would be to completely phase out single-use packaging and introduce a system of reuse of containers. Thought Beverage serving machines In local shops, where you can fill a bottle that you bring home, or from the bottle The return And Reuse Plans.
Where possible, reducing waste and reused materials, some must come before recycling. By reusing bottles, we reduce the amount of single-use packaging that needs to be made, reducing waste and the entire host’s Global environmental problems.
This article Ian williams, Professor of Applied Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton And Alice brock, PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton Republished from chit chat Under a Creative Commons license. read the Original article.