I know I should've taken the time to type this up long ago, but as my dad says, I've been busier than a cat trying to cover up it's crap on a tin roof.
We've been talking amongst ourselves here at the Sugar Shack for quite some time about all of the pros and cons of glass and plastic containers. We've wavered back and forth for the last year, slowly testing out new containers, labeling, and packaging, and we think we have come to the best solution for everyone.
While we're all aware of the major pros and cons of each, I thought listing a few of the popular opinions and our response to them as it pertains to us, may give you all an idea of how we came to our decision.
To state the obvious, glass typically weighs more than plastic. But to be fair, when we compared the weight of our typical 8oz glass jars to our polypropylene plastic jars, the glass only weighs 1.4oz more. Plus, we have to take into consideration what type of product is going inside the jars, and how dense that material is as well to have an accurate measurement.
If the weight of the jar matters because of the cost to ship the jars, we aren't talking enough of an increase in weight for you to see much of a jump in shipping costs. (Unless of course you're ordering a ton, which in that case you would be bumped to flat rate shipping and paying less in the end anyway.)
Winner of the WEIGHT Round: Six one way, half a dozen the other. TIE
One would think that this would be an easy win for plastic, but as with everything else, it's just not that simple.
Plastic can also crack just as easily as glass can break, and sometimes these cracks are so small they are not visible right away. These tiny little cracks provide the perfect little hiding spots for bacteria, and given that we try to use the most mild preservatives available, Bacteria-harborers are not our friends. At least when glass breaks, generally we know it. But what happens when we don't... OUCH!
Shattered glass is never really a fun thing for anyone involved, and safety is of course a major concern. With slippery surfaces such as the tub, I can certainly see the need for caution anytime there are glass jars lining the ledge. For those of us with small children, we know how quickly situations can, umm...arise.
Winner of the DURABILITY/SAFETY Round: Safety first! This one goes to plastic!
While both glass and plastic are recyclable, we thought there were a few things to consider when deciding which of these options were truly best for our precious Mother Earth.
Glass can be recycled endlessly, and in a fairly short amount of time, into more glass. Once recycled glass is thrown into the mix, manufacturers can run their furnaces at lower temperatures, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions at a rate of 1 ton for every 6 tons of recycled glass. Winning!
Plastics can also be recycled, and in the same fashion. However, once any additives are introduced, plastics can be "down cycled" into carpeting, fibers, clothing, etc. Pretty sweet!
The darkside of plastics, is that they do have an affinity for finding their way into our precious oceans-- however, we feel as though this isn't solely because of the choice to use plastic jars, but mainly due to our "disposable" lifestyles that we're all guilty of living, and lackluster recycling practices.
Winner of the TREE-HUGGING TENDENCIES Round: Love is love. TIE!
Glass, glass, glass. All we have to say is GLASSSSSS honey, YAS. That is all. Except for when we use those cute little plastic champagne bottles...Shhh..
WINNER of DESIGN AESTHETICS Round: yep, glass.
Not sure if seepage is a word, but I'm pretty sure it because the squiggly red line went away-- but anyway I think it's worthy of discussion.
If the correct TYPE of plastic is chosen, based on the types and percentages of certain chemicals/ingredients in the recipe, there should be ZERO leakage/seepage going on between what's inside the jar, and the jar itself.
PET is food-safe, and in most recipes, should never leak/seep. However, there are few recipes that exceed these limitations, and while rare, in these cases we would have no choice but to use a glass container.
Also: I think it is very important to point out that most of the plastic containers (with the exception of the polypropylene jars) are NOT dishwasher safe, and are NOT resistant to very high temperatures, which does not make them ideal for sterile processes. (Or for ease of rinse and up-cycling!)
Glass will not produce a leakage/seepage problem, regardless of moisture or oil content, and can withstand much larger temperature ranges. They are easily cleaned, and dishwasher safe!
Winner of LEAKAGE/SEEAPGE Round: Glass, it's you girl.
For some reason, this is always a hot topic, so naturally I let the anticipation build and saved her for last.
With ALL things considered, glass is NOT more expensive than plastic.
I repeat. Glass is NOT more expensive than plastic. (This would also mean that plastic is not a cheaper alternative to glass.)
Now before you start throwing things at me, hear me out.
The price of the containers depend on a number of things, but mostly the material of the jar itself, and the lid.
Polypropylene jars are nearly equivalent in price to glass, if not more, so the price issue here is null and void.
PET jars are a cheaper option, however some shapes/varieties must be purchased in LARGE bulk quantities- especially the accompanying lids-- which unfortunately as a small business, we cannot afford to do. (For example, some lid varieties are only available in quantities of 24 or 24,000. So at first glance, it would seem as though this would be a cheaper route, until you realize you only need to order 200 lids to get you through one full year and you would have to sit on 22,800 of them for God knows how long. So while this option will work for some of our products, and for some companies, it does not easily translate to all of our products.
Winner of the PRICE Round: Neither. Ya both lose! The time and effort we put into piping the same contents into a jar whether it is glass or container, well outweighs the mere 10 cent price break per jar.
So as you see, we are right where we began. Glass and plastic are both wonderful and terrible, and all for different reasons-- so we're going to keep both!
We will still be offering the majority of our items in their typical packaging, however we will now be offering more plastic options in a larger variety of products for everyone to enjoy. We won't always have everything available in every option, but we will be strategically choosing each item at each restock and pre-order to allow everyone the comfort of ordering based on their CHOICE. That's what it's all about people!
After all this economically-friendly digging, a few things came to my attention that we could be doing here at Ahhh Sugar Sugar to decrease unnecessary uses of plastic/materials that can easily float out of trash bins, and into our oceans. Yes, little plastic seals around the jars, we're talking about YOU. We will be toying with the idea of ridding ourselves of them, so if you would like to weigh in on the discussion, we'd love to hear what you think! Shoot us an email any time at firstname.lastname@example.org or start up a thread on Facebook!
We've also been re-using all of the packing peanuts we receive in our supply deliveries, so we apologize to everyone who has been receiving packages with those obnoxious (and NON BIODEGRADABLE I might add) styrofoam peanuts instead of our typical dissolvable packing peanuts. We figure as bad as the styrofoam peanuts are in the first place, isn't it even more ignorant to waste them rather than recycle them at least one more time?
Sorry this blog post is super lengthy, but I think it is long overdue. If anyone wants to chat about it, or has any comments/suggestions, I'm always available! Just shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you.