Times Are Changing!
Ah, honey: everyone's favourite gift from nature! Sold to shoppers around the world as a household staple, it comes packaged in a variety of materials, most often glass and plastic. With ever climbing costs, protection of our environment, sustainability, and food security at the forefront of our minds today, it’s more important than ever before in history to consider not only where your honey is sourced from, but also what sort of container is it found in?
Though it may seem like a choice purely of preference and aesthetics, there are actually substantial differences between packaging our delicious local honey in glass versus plastic containers. Let’s go over the pros and cons of each option!
Cost and Durability
Many distributors make their packaging material decisions primarily based on cost, and there are multiple costs to consider. First, the cost of the material itself, and then on top of that, the shipping costs are also an important consideration.
Glass, as you might have expected, is more expensive to produce (which makes it more expensive to purchase for uses such as packaging honey). However, glass is a more durable material. Since it can last far longer, its cost per use is actually lower than plastic’s!
Glass is also heavier than plastic. Because weight is the biggest determinant when factoring shipping costs, plastic is much less expensive to ship.
Distributors may also choose their packaging material based on durability, particularly during shipping. Though glass has the potential to be damaged in transit when mishandled, it is far more durable in the long run, making it great for packaging our precious Canadian honey, as it has an extremely long shelf life (much like honey itself!)
Glass and plastic both have a measurable impact on the environment, which we take into great consideration when choosing packaging for our many types of all-natural raw honey (we depend heavily on a stable environment for our bees to be able to operate!)Production
The environmental impact as well as ecological impact of production usually refers to the carbon footprint left when making different materials. Producing glass requires more energy than producing plastic, making glass production more costly for the environment than plastic production. Also, unlike glass, plastic is something that can be economically produced in Canada, so you will often find a lot of plastic products are actually Canadian plastic. We proudly source "made in Canada" for our plastic containers (e.g. for our bulk honey containers)as much as we can, and this can tremendously reduce the environmental toll because these materials are not being transported very far.Recyclability
Production is not the only factor to consider when looking at environmental impact. Both materials can be recycled, which helps each material be much more eco-friendly. In terms of overall recyclability, though, glass is the clear winner (pun intended). This is because of its durability and longevity: glass can be cleaned, dried, and reused as many times as needed for decades and even centuries, so long as it handled properly and with care. And even if you personally have no use for it, it can be recycled indefinitely for other uses.
Plastic, however, creates a lot of unusable waste, is not always recyclable, and is one of the most prominent materials in landfills. Plastic is also known to leak harmful chemicals into the environment while breaking down in landfills, urban areas and in nature. Overall, it takes a very long time for plastic to complete its cycle, and it is not useful for anywhere near as long as glass can be. As far as recyclability is concerned, glass is a much better material for the environment.
Packaging materials are looked at in a completely different light when it comes to food safety: not just any material can be used to ship food because some are unsafe.
Certified food grade plastic is completely safe to ship food in, but you can’t always see the condition of the contents until it’s opened, which can sometimes lead to surprises!
Glass is non-permeable unlike plastic, and you can see the contents to initially judge the quality and overall appearance. Aside from the possibility of glass breakage, which is very low when handled with care, glass is safer for honey storage than plastic.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, glass and plastic each have important pros and cons to their packaging uses when used for transportating and storing food, but our preference and default is to package our honey in glass as much as possible because of its durability and preserving abilities, its recyclability, and, importantly, its long term environmental impact. We will proudly sell our popular hand-packaged Manitoba buckwheat honey in glass jars, knowing not only that this will best preserve the hard work of our bees and will allow display of its rich hues, but also that honey and jar will continue to function as a safe way to store food for as long as is required.
Finally, we're confident that you'll agree, when you see with your own eyes our flavoured honey blends on the shelf in their various lovely colours and in their beautiful and ageless glass jars: great Canadian honey deserves to be treated as the unique and treasured gift that it is.