Why the Glass Isn't Always Greener

At Truman’s, we’re totally obsessed with reducing plastic waste. So how come we package our cleaning products in plastic instead of glass? We’re glad you asked!

Clearly, we love glass. That’s why we made The Glass Is Always Cleaner: to guarantee that it’s always streak-free and looking its best! But glass comes with added expenses -- to the environment and the consumer -- that make it harder to justify when it’s not used to hold food or drink.

After pondering the packaging issue, perusing peer-reviewed studies and crunching the numbers, we knew that reusable plastic bottles made the most sense for Truman’s cleaners. Here’s why:
  • In most cases, it’s not plastic itself that’s the problem, but the way people use plastic: once and done, and then it’s off to the nearest landfill or — just maybe — recycling center. Our PET (polyethylene) bottles, in contrast, are specifically designed to be used again and again, cutting plastic waste by more than 90%. By making it easy for consumers to adopt refillable cleaning containers, we hope to lead the charge (or at least visibly move the needle!) away from single-use bottles.
  • Making glass is energy-intensive. It requires heating raw materials like silica (from sand), soda ash and limestone until they melt together, at somewhere around 1,500°C . You don’t reach that temperature by rubbing two sticks together -- it takes a very hot furnace running on carbon-emitting fossil fuels. And that leads to our next point:
  • Glass typically has a higher carbon footprint than containers like those we use at Truman’s. A comparison of glass and plastic baby food jars, for example, found that the glass jars produced as much as 33% more greenhouse gases. (The plastic jars also released fewer carcinogens, sent fewer pollutants into waterways and required less acreage.) A similar study, of beverage containers, concluded that glass produced nearly four times as much greenhouse gas as plastic.
  • The biggest factor in environmental calculations is weight. Because glass is much heavier than plastic -- and trucks have strict weight limits on cargo -- more fossil fuels are consumed transporting products packaged in glass. (When Planter’s switched from glass to plastic bottles some years ago, it cut packaging weight by 84%.)
  • Glass isn’t just heavier; it’s also fragile. That means more packaging materials are necessary to make sure bottles don’t break in transit.
  • The costs related to all that extra weight have to be made up somewhere, and that somewhere is most likely at the checkout counter. A Truman’s Starter Kit is just under a higher price threshold because of its weight, allowing us to offer free shipping to our customers. When you’re trying to encourage meaningful change, every nickel counts.
  • Glass bottles break, especially when entrusted to pint-sized people with slippery fingers. We always want Truman’s products to be kid-friendly!
Obviously, there are also strong arguments to be made for glass containers, and we applaud any and all efforts to cut plastic use. But we created Truman’s to make it easier for people to adopt reusable bottles and to move the market of ready-to-use cleaners towards a more sustainable solution. To achieve that, we decided that reusable plastic bottles were the way to go.

Got questions, or just want to quibble? We’d love to hear from you on this or any other topic -- preferably but not necessarily cleaning related! We’re here for you!