Back to Glass >> Advent Policy Brief #8

Three things made Prince Edward Island a magical place for me as a kid: you had to take a ferry there, the soil is red, and all of the drinks came in glass bottles. That last part was something that should have never changed. My eighth Advent Policy Brief suggests we had it right before plastic ruled the shelves, and the future is back to glass.

PEI was the only place in North America where drinks could only be sold in refillable bottles. The ban was put in place in 1984 to protect local bottling plant jobs and the environment; it lasted until 2008.

The narrative of aluminum cans being environmentally comparable to glass was pushed as a justification to end the bottling requirement. Cans were the bait, but plastic was the switch.

Some facts from the Glass Packaging Institute.
  • Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.
  • 80% of the glass that is recovered is made into new glass products
  • Glass is nonporous and impermeable, so there are no interactions between glass packaging and products to affect the flavor of food and beverages. No nasty after taste - ever.
  • Glass has an almost zero rate of chemical interactions, ensuring that the products inside a glass bottle keep their strength, aroma, and flavor.
Now for the visual comparison.

Plastic in the ocean:

Glass in the ocean:

It's time for a full national ban on plastic packaging for consumable liquids.