The plastic rebellion has glassmakers seeing things half full

They want to put old-school bottles back on top of the recycling heap, but the path to a revival might not be so clear.


February 25, 2020

Glass packaging is almost as quaint as the milkman himself. But glassmakers are hoping that the backlash against single-use plastic can return old-school bottles to the throne — or at least the top of the recycling heap.

Plastic shattered glass’s grip on the market

And one bubbly industry shows how:

  • In 1975, 58% of all soda came in glass bottles. Today, it’s just 1%.
  • Plastic, meanwhile, went from 0% to almost 33%.

Nowadays, plastic is practically taboo. There may be opportunity for glassmakers, since their products give packaged foods longer shelf lives and bottles can be refilled again and again.

But the path to a glass revival might not be so clear

The number of glass-container plants in the US plummeted 65% since 1983, alongside falling demand for soda bottles. And about ⅔ of glass containers in the US aren’t actually recycled.

Aluminum aficionados have opened up a can of competition on their glass-jawed counterparts, too. One company, Liquid Death (tagline: “murder your thirst”), just snagged a $9m investment to quench your craving for… canned water.

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