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posted by on 13th May 2015

This post was the contents of (now retired)

Update 27th January 2019:

All plastic that can get into oceans should be biodegradable,
including fishing tackle. Yes I’ve watched David Attenborough. 

BrusselsBlog will have more to say on plastics in due course.

Plastic better than recycling glass?

6th August, 2009

Recycling bottles – breaking them up, melting them down and making new bottles – does not benefit to the environment much. We start with these questions:

1. How does this footprint of a bottle made from recycled material compare with the footprint of a bottle made from virgin material?

2. How does the recycled bottle footprint compare with other forms of packaging?

Some information on the carbon footprint of bottles can be found at wineenabler . They say

In the U.S., recycled glass accounts for about 25% of all glass on the market. Also, using recycled glass reduces the carbon footprint of the resulting bottle by about 25%.

They also say

you can manufacture and dispose of about 2.7 plastic wine bottles for the same carbon footprint that you could manufacture and recycle 1 glass bottle.

Another good source for carbon footprints is the ICE database from the Sustainable Energy Research Team at the University of Bath. They give 0.77kg CO2 per kg glass. They may have used a 38% rate of recycling for this figure.

For context around the carbon footprint of glass bottles in relation to a carbon ration see the

Bottles reused in Denmark

25th October, 2009

An email from Anita Brown says

In Denmark for many years now all beer bottles are of a standard size and shape, you crate your empties up and take them to the supermarket, where you get a credit voucher,so you can either buy food or more beer. The Danes have some great graphics on their beer labels.

The carbon footprint of a bottle of beer in reused bottles is a fraction of than beer in recycled bottles.

Burning plastic better than recycling?

25th October, 2009

Neville Martin of Shetland Heat Energy and Power Ltd says why it is better to burn plastic bottles than to recycle them:

I have little problem with plastic bottles. If they find their way into the Waste stream is it worth recycling them? They have a high calorific value and are a petro chemical product which has been used for another use before becoming a fuel unlike when used in a car or boiler. It is lightweight – is it worth shipping long distance for recycling and is it really cost effective recycling as there are so many types of plastic? I have never heard a true cost and assessment of the problems on recycling plastic. It is always fudged by management people who do not seem to really know much about science and economics.

Prayer of commitment

7th November, 2010

NoGreenBottles has heard of a plan to dispose of bottles at sea. The authors of the plan believe (as we do) that recycling glass by grinding bottles into small particles, melting them and reforming them into new bottles creates too much carbon dioxide pollution. (See an earlier post “Plastic better than recycling glass”). Their plans are currently stalled for legal reasons but they have sent us the prayer they hope to use in the burial at sea.

Dear Lord, we commit these bottles born of the fire of global
warming to the damaged deep to become homes for your
wondrous creations under the waves.

These mortal remains will be snached from the evil recyclers
who would grind them into dust before melting them in great
furnaces to repeat the evil of their birth.

Dear Lord, make us respectful of your great works and drink
our wine from Tetrapaks.

Glass vs plastic from Verde

4th August, 2018

According to the Jan 2013 issue of International Journal of Lifecycle Assessment, glass beverage bottles cause the most environmental damage, including global warming.  Reusing a glass bottle three times lowers it carbon footprint roughly to that of a single-use plastic beverage bottle.  If the plastic bottle gets recycled, however, then the glass bottle must be reused 20 times to make their carbon footprint comparable.

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