Why Glass is Not An Alternative for Hela

Glass or Plastic?

Many of our customers want glass as an alternative to the often-criticised plastic.
Hela evaluates this decision holistically based on its understanding of sustainability (see understanding of sustainability). According to this, our HDPE bottle is the most sustainable solution at the moment. However, this does not mean that we are satisfied with it. We are constantly working on sustainability issues. This includes constantly questioning our assessment of packaging and trying out new solutions on the market. You can see this, for example, in our new products.

Here is a short FAQ and details on the topic of plastic at Hela:    

What is Plastic?

First of all, you should take a closer look at the term "plastic" or "synthetics". Most plastics are basically made from petroleum. Carbon compounds are made from it and various additives are added. This results in different properties of the final product. There are different types of plastic, some of which are recyclable and some of which are not. There are standardised plastic labels for this. For example, PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate and PVC for polyvinyl chloride. In addition, there is a number from 1 to 7 in a triangle of arrows. The code and abbreviation can be found on the bottom of the packaging. 

Recyclability of the well-known Hela bottle

Our ketchup bottles are made of HDPE (high-density polyethylene) and can be recycled with mechanical recycling processes as tubes for protecting underground cables, parts for the car industry, blown film, packaging materials and flowerpots, among other things. Polyethylene can usually be recycled up to four or five times before its physical properties are significantly affected. In chemical feedstock recycling, which is currently under development, various plastics from different polymer groups can also be recycled in a chemical process. In this process, the raw material is broken down into its chemical components, which can then be reused. Our bottle is therefore 100% recyclable. However, due to the lid and the label, the recyclability drops to 95%.

Why do we not use Glass?

Glass bottles do not find use in our production for several reasons. 

Firstly, they are not favourable to Hela's food safety concept. It is too easy for glass splinters to get into our products. Also, for space and storage reasons, we would need larger premises, which would lead to higher energy expenditure. In addition, the higher weight of glass bottles compared to plastic would contribute to increased fuel consumption. With plastic containers, it is also possible to bring them to their final size on site at the production line, which means that considerably fewer truck journeys are needed compared to glass containers (approx. 6 times less) and thus a massive CO2 saving is achieved on the transport route. These factors alone favour a negative impact on the environment. In addition, glass bottles are translucent. This in turn requires special storage and can have an impact on the ingredients in our products. As product protection cannot be carried out as effectively with glass, this results in shorter best-before dates and thus possibly in the premature destruction of food that has not been consumed in time.

Also, glass packaging does not directly mean a recyclable packaging alternative. Glass that is only used once (which is the case with most products), such as a pickle jar or a wine bottle, is thrown into the glass container after use and not reused. The production and recycling of glass requires a very high energy input in the form of high temperatures to melt the raw materials (such as sand). This process produces very high CO2 emissions, which are many times higher than in the production of plastic. The crushing and reprocessing are also very costly and requires a lot of energy.

So, would using reusable glass bottles be better alternative?

In production, filling reusable packaging requires more cleaning. This also requires a lot of energy, cleaning agents, but also a lot of water. Also, the introduction of a suitable reusable system in supermarkets does not exist and would be necessary.  

And what about organic plastics?

Unfortunately, these are often not suitable for food production. These plastics are mostly made from sugar cane and corn, which were originally intended as food but are then used for packaging production. Furthermore, the cultivation of these foodstuffs also consumes a lot of water, fertiliser and arable land. Furthermore, the materials do not protect the products as our customers expect.  

So far, we have not found a bioplastic that meets our demands for product protection, production requirements and sustainability. If you see any possibilities, please contact us at

What is rPET?

rPET is recycled PET, which is obtained from the bottle deposit system of beverage bottles. The old bottles are shredded, cleaned separately according to different types of plastic and can then be fed into the production process for new bottles.

Since rPET does not have quite as optimal technical processing properties as virgin PET, a mixture of rPET and virgin PET is still used in bottle production. In order to obtain product protection and thus an extended shelf life, additives can be added to the PET if necessary. The availability of rPET is limited because rPET with food approval can only be obtained from PET bottles from the bottle deposit system.

All PET bottles or other plastics collected through the waste collection systems currently do not have food approval after recycling and thus cannot be used as packaging for food. However, they are permitted in other areas such as detergents, motor oils, fertilisers, etc. 

Why does Hela not use rPET?

As already described, rPET is recycled PET and is usually used as a mixed composite (rPET and PET). This blend is similar to PET in many ways. Under "Recyclability of the well-known Hela bottle" you will find information about the fact that we use HDPE instead of PET. The use of HDPE excludes the use of rPET because they are different plastics.

So basically, it shows that plastic is not as bad as its reputation and that glass is not necessarily the better packaging alternative. And since we at Hela care equally about nature and the quality and freshness of our products, we will not stop working on our packaging materials and improving them in terms of sustainability.

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