Is The World Running Out Of Sand? Are Plastic Bottles The New Norm?
Glass bottles of Snapple: Do you have a nostalgia for that crisp, delicious Snapple rushing out of a freezing cold glass bottle? Are you a member at Costco because they are the only store with glass coke? You know the truth, plastic bottled juice just doesn’t taste the same, and you are right; it really doesn’t taste the same in plastic, and it’s not just because it does”t get cold enough; plastic bottles do alter the taste.
Are you kicking yourself? Why isn’t glass more environmentally friendly? Why the push towards plastic?
Sand Mafia and Death Not Kidding
Black markets for sand operated by sand mafias. People are fighting over sand; sound crazy? When you realize just how much sand we use, this starts to make sense.
Are you asking? Wait, we are talking about sand or glass?
Glass is made from heated sand. Below is a step-by-step on how the process is done.
- In a commercial glass plant, sand is heated up with soda ash (sodium carbonate) and limestone (calcium carbonate) in a furnace until the sand is melted and runny.
- The soda is added in to reduce the sand’s melting point; this saves a considerable amount on the glass producing plant’s energy bill. However, the soda added in creates a glass that melts when it comes into contact with water.
- The limestone is added to counteract the soda and prevent the glass from being able to melt if it were to come into contact with water.
- . The end-product is called soda-lime-silica glass. It’s the ordinary glass we can see all around us.
How The Shape Of The Glass Is Created
Once the sand is melted, it can be poured into molds to make bottles, glasses, and other containers or “floated” (poured on top of a giant vat of molten tin metal) to make perfectly flat sheets of glass for windows.
Unusual glass containers are still sometimes made by “blowing” them. A “gob” (lump) of molten glass is wrapped around an open pipe, which is slowly rotated. Air is blown through the pipe’s open end, causing the glass to blow up like a balloon. With skillful blowing and turning, all kinds of fantastic shapes can be made.
Enough With the Technicalities and On To The Details.
Glass is blown from sand, obviously, the quality and color of the sand will influence the results. This ensures that quite literally location location location will be your most important detail on how your glass will be both quality and clarity as the earth varies from place to place.
Obviously, you by now figured out that desert sand is a nonstarter.
Being that the location of the sand you want to use is so important, there are sand mines where the sand is the best for a particular high in demand glass. as a matter of fact, sand is the most mined material globally, far surpassing oil and coal. And our demand for it is only rising. Sand mining in the US alone is way over a $70 billion industry.
Vietnam has depleted its sand resources so much it’s practically out of quality sand.
These sand shortages have led to price gouging and black markets. China monopolized its sand mining industry to quell violence associated with competition for the increasingly rare resource.
Organized crime runs illegal sand trade in Africa, Italy, and India. India has seen it the worst while sand mafias exist worldwide, and there have been deaths in numerous countries. India stands outs in that at least 22 of India’s 28 states, there is known at least one sand mafia. According to one report, at least 193 people have died due to Illegal sand mining in India alone between January 2019 and mid-November 2020. Among the slain are civilians, journalists, activists, and government officials.
The glass shortage threatened to slow down the development of Hudson Yards in Manhattan; however, the creativity of the leader of the project saved the day when he located a source in Pensalvanyia to mine sand and created New Hudson Facades to create their windows.
This Was All Pre Covid-19
Add in the supply chain issues post covid. You now have a glass industry that was already teetering on collapse pre-covid in total disarray with numerous bourbon companies not being able to obtain glass bottles and prestigious Italian glass manufacturing companies such as VetroElite and others taking orders for mid-2023 and beyond.
All of this will make your next glass bottle that much more of a rarity, as I am sure you have noticed by now, glass beer bottles and even glass wine bottles!
Need I say that ordering a projected 200 billion glass viles for Covid-19 vaccines made the industry more desperate for sand.
The Bright Side
I spoke with one small company that views this as an opportunity for the small distillery. Large companies such as Blanton’s can’t just order 1000 bottles and be nimble about the packaging, so their spot is empty, a spot that stores want to be occupied, so he is out daily trying to fill those bare shelf spots with his bottle. A piece of advice is to diversify your bottle shape for every release with what’s available. Then stock up with all the types you used.