Spicy Blog

Sustainability - No More Glass Containers

Science tells us that global warming is accelerating and we need to change our behaviors quickly to stop further environmental damage. So, we considered how our love of cooking and our concerns about the environment could be combined. We figured that even small changes to our daily lives have an impact.

For example, changing how we use spices and herbs seems very small, but if you consider that virtually every household uses spices, all of the little changes together will add up. Even spices and herbs, used more efficiently, can help slow down global warming and help feed all mankind.

So we introduced our range of organic spices in their new SpicePucks to both help home-chefs to become even better chefs, while also positively impacting the environment.

We'll be posting a series of blogs discussing the environmental impact of our products. The first one is entitled "No More Glass Containers".

We came up with our products because they work better than the old style glass jars. Little did we know, about the contribution to landfill by spices stored in a typical glass jar.

Even though glass lends itself to recycling (there is no deterioration in quality and it can be recycled time and time again), an enormous amount finds its way into landfills. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 24% of glass ends up recycled in 40 states without a bottle deposit system and still only 63% in states that do (https://www.wsj.com/articles/high-costs-put-cracks-in-glass-recycling-programs-1429695003).

The EPA’s numbers for the US are similarly discouraging which estimate that 54% of glass containers end up in landfills (https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/containers-and-packaging-product-specific-data#GlassContainers). The EPA estimates that about 4,890,000 tons of glass containers ended up in a landfill in 2015. And just for the record, glass bottles take about 4,000 years to decompose.

So how much do spice glass jars contribute to that landfill issue? Needless to say, we have to estimate how many spice glass jars end up in a landfill. Let’s assume every 4th household in the US throws out one standard sized glass jar (spices or herbs) per year (one is probably a conservative estimate since most households have several spice jars and probably throw out multiple per year). That would total 125 million glass jars. Let’s apply the above recycling versus landfill split with 54% of the glass ending up in a landfill, which would mean about 67.5 million glass jars end up in a landfill (this is very conservative since a higher percentage of small glass container end up in a landfill compared to larger wine and beer bottles, which are easier to recycle). With the average spice container’s weight of 115 grams (4 oz), spice jars represent almost 2 million tons of landfill glass or about 6 ½ super tankers, every year. Alternatively, you could fill the empire state building twice, every year.

Clearly, it makes a lot of sense to reuse spice and herb containers. That’s why we figured, we should use not just any light-protecting material, but one that lends itself to continued use and reduces landfill. That’s why we used an easily recyclable material such as stainless steel. More about that in a different blog.

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