Why ‘rightweight’ not ‘lightweight’ is the way forward in packaging

 

The recent article “RPC provides barrier jars to well-known Spanish olive firm” published on Packaging News has raised an interesting question: can plastic bottles really be more environmentally friendly than glass? Spanish olives in plastic bottles may weigh less, making some savings in transport costs and carbon emissions on the road, but what about recyclability?

 

Glass is one of the most natural materials available made from three simple ingredients: sand, limestone and soda ash. Those ingredients make glass endlessly, 100% recyclable. Glass also helps keep food fresher for longer and is the only packaging material that doesn’t need extra layers to protect your olives from tasting like anything but olives.

 

“The new jar has been specifically developed to meet the needs of the olive industry, according to RPC” says the article. However we support the view of Linpac Packaging’s business manager Erwan Cadoret, who earlier this month argued that ‘rightweighting’ and not ‘lightweighting’ packaging is the way forward:

 

“It is essential that we respond to our customers and adapt the way we operate to meet those demands, yet it is fundamental that we do not compromise on efficiency and quality in doing so as the consequences of that are more far reaching.”

 

He also says  that lightweighting was happening across the industry, and that the phrase ‘rightweighting’ – doing more with less material – should actually be the goal and replace lightweighting as a phrase.

 

Glass can actually lower your carbon footprint compared to other packaging*. For example, only 4-5% of any form of packaging’s carbon footprint comes from transportation, and glass typically offsets that by being 100% recyclable without any loss of quality or purity.

 

Comparing materials is not the answer, as all materials are different. However, it’s important to look at the total lifecycle of packaging which includes not only shipping and transport, but also raw material extraction, manufacturing, and recycling or disposal. Ultimately, because glass recycles endlessly, making new bottles often requires fewer raw materials and less energy.

 

*O-I’s Life Cycle Assessment

 

 

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