The Battle between glass and plastic test tubes

A lot of people wonder if glass test tubes are better than the plastic ones. Indeed, the demand for glass tubes has increased significantly in the past few decades. Almost all scientific experiments rely on the need for glass tubes. These tubes play an important role in storing, moving and handling chemicals. Without a glass tube, it will be very difficult to perform any lab experiment. And, this statement is not an exaggeration of the present situation.

However, some companies have decided to shift from glass tubes to the plastic ones. They believe that plastic tubes are more economical. However, are plastic tubes eco-friendly? This is a concern raised by many consumers.

Which is greener?

A few years ago, Carnegie Mellon University did a study to understand if the lab glass tube or the plastic tube is greener. Well, results of the study reveal that glass test tubes are much more eco-friendly than the plastic ones.

There are marked differences in the amount of energy required to produce and dispose of these test tubes. The efficiency of production is influenced by two important factors. One, the amount of air pollution caused during the production. Two, the amount of carbon dioxide produced. Three, the total amount of energy required to produce the test tubes.

The results

The amount of energy required to manufacture glass test tubes is considered high. To be more precise, glass needs twice the amount of energy to be produced than traditional plastic tubes. The amount of energy required to produce a million glass tubes is 22.5 terajoules. On the other hand, you need 12 Terajoules to produce a million plastic tubes. This clearly proves that glass tubes require more energy.

Nevertheless, there are serious questions on whether spending this amount of energy is useful. Is it worth spending energy on glass tubes over the plastic ones? Do you really need lab glass tubes? Well, the answer is yes!

Eco-friendly glass tubes

When compared to glass, plastic is less eco-friendly. It can produce three times more air pollution than glass. This is mainly because glass is more durable than plastic.

Scientific projects depend on glass tubes for a reason. The Pyrex test tubes are extremely strong and capable of handling high temperatures. This gives researchers the opportunity to go beyond borders and try many new things. With plastic tubes, your options are limited. You cannot hold a plastic test tube to the Bunsen flame without any worries of cracking or breaking. This means you cannot try extreme experiments in plastic tubes.

And, every plastic tube may need to be disposed of with the end of an experiment. Washing and re-using plastic tubes is never easy. This increases the number of landfills with harmful chemical deposits. With lab glass tubes, you don’t suffer such complications. Glass tubes can be washed and cleaned easily. You can re-use glass tubes for several experiments. This means you are generating lessor waste and the risks of harmful landfills!

So, the next time you have to choose between plastic and glass tubes – go glass test tubes.