British Glass has rejected claims glass is more impactful on the environment than plastic.

The statement comes after a report published by the University of Southampton and recently published in the UK national media of the harmful impact of glass.

The research was also published in Detritus, the Journal for Waste Resources and Residues.

Southampton postgraduate researcher Alice Brock, together with Ian Williams, Professor of Applied Environmental Science suggested that glass bottles are often discarded after a single use, and the total impact of glass bottles is worse once its energy footprint and the damage of resource mining is taken into account.

Ms Brock said: “All beverage packaging that we assessed showed some form of environmental impacts and both the milk carton and Tetra Pak, despite being less impactful than the plastic bottles still contain plastic elements.

“Based on the evidence, society needs to move away from single-use beverage packaging in order to reduce environmental harm and embrace the regular everyday use of reusable containers as standard practice."

In response to the study, British Glass’ Lead Packaging and Recycling Advisor Phil Fenton said: “When comparing packaging materials side by side there will be pros and cons of each.

“But with this study, we believe there are errors that skew the final findings against glass as a sustainable source of packaging and it is vital that consumers have clear information around their packaging choices.”

He advised that the research didn’t account for recycling as part of the life cycle assessment, nor discuss the end of life for glass if not recycled, which is non-toxic to the environment due to the natural nature of the materials used.

Furthermore, Mr Fenton explained that silica sand, limestone and dolomite are materials in abundance to glass manufacturers.

In conclusion, Mr Fenton said: “As an industry we are constantly finding ways to lessen our impact on the environment.

“From using recycled glass in the manufacturing process to reduce both the energy required and carbon footprint of new bottles and jars, to paving a way to net zero carbon emissions through pioneering green initiatives in renewable fuels, lighter weight bottles and the production of the world’s first glass bottle which will truly have no negative impact on the environment.

“We all know more needs to be done to increase recycling, tackle litter, and move toward creating a circular economy for all packaging formats, which is why it is vital consumers, politicians and policy makers have clear, transparent evidence and not misleading reports to make their own decisions.”

The full statement from British Glass can be found here:

The full Life Cycle Assessment of Beverage Packaging can be downloaded here