Experts term glass bottle as `safest, greenest` packaging for food, beverages

Science News, Nation, (New Delhi), November 29:-Glass packaging is the packaging material that provides its contents complete protection from environmental, mechanical and biological perspective.

Glass is made from all natural and sustainable raw materials – silica sand, soda-ash, lime stone and other trace elements and it is “Generally rated as safe (GRAS)” and is graded safe by the US Food and Drug Administration.

It is totally inert, doesn’t interact or migrate any substance to the contents and provide longer shelf life to product. Also, it doesn’t allow any oxygen and water vapour transmission thereby providing complete protection to its contents.

Glass is also 100 per cent recyclable and can be re-used more than 40 times without compromising quality. This not only saves raw material and energy consumption but also reduces packaging waste considerably.

While other packaging materials are mostly down cycled (not recycled) and goes for land filling or incineration, used glass bottle comes back in the closed loop cycle.

In Europe, it has created local businesses and jobs that are now helping to recover more than 70 per cent of all post-consumer glass packaging in the European Union (EU) and keeping valuable resources out of landfills.

Only 40 per cent glass is recycled in India due to lack of proper collection and segregation facilities and rest goes into landfill where it bio degrades with time unlike other non-biodegradable packaging materials.

The All India Glass Manufacturers’ Federation (AIGMF) commissioned the study in 2011 to establish a clear understanding of the environmental impact of container glass at all stages of the life cycle.

The study was conducted on Cradle – to – Cradle approach which is the ultimate test in assessing the environmental impact of a product because it ensures that all aspects of a product’s life, end-of-life and reincarnation are accounted for. It was found that shelf-life of food and beverages with glass container is much more than other packaging mediums and in India glass is by far the eco-friendliest material while packaging is concerned.

According to study by ENVIS centre on Municipal Solid Waste Management, sponsored by MoEF, total urban MSW (Municipal solid waste) generated in 2041 would be 230 million Ton per year (TPY) from 68 million TPY in 2011.

Lack of public awareness, effective rules and institutional capacity in India call for use of recyclable, reusable and easily collectible packaging material in all spheres of life. And, only 15 per cent of all Indian packaging initiatives include the use of recycled/ renewable content, far behind their global counterparts which account for 31 per cent. Apart from recyclability and reusability, glass bottle also has minimal water footprint compared to other packaging materials.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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