Although, unlike plastic, glass is spared the environmentalists' finger pointing to it as a polluting material, the process of its creation is not as friendly.
Obviously, when opening a bottle of wine, one might possibly be concerned by the prospects of a terrible hangover rather than the impact that the creation process of that respective bottle has on the environment on a large scale. The final material may be 100% recyclable and usable in order to yield new glass, but, as the new fining possibility of the United States' second biggest bottle producer (Saint-Gobain Containers) for polluting the air shows, some environmental organizations and rules, such as the federal Clean Air Act, are not so content with the way it is made.
Upon the glass manufacture process, air-polluting compounds like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulates are released. The last are even more of a health issue since the particles of metals, chemicals, acids and dust that the particulates are comprised of are so tiny (10 micrometers or even smaller) that they are able to easily enter the nose and throat and reach the lungs, where they produce quite some damage.
Saint-Gobain Containers has been fined before, in 2005, by the EPA for $929.000 (526.500 pounds or 667.500 Euro) for violating the Clean Air Act, and agreed at the time to come up with $6 million (about 3.400.000 pounds or 4.311.000 Euro) worth of pollution control systems, as well as a $1.2 million (around 680.000 pounds or 862.000 Euro) emissions-reducing environmental project.
This major impact on the environment made experts like the famous wine blogger Dr. Vino (by the real name of Tyler Colman) think of alternative solutions, such as wine boxes, more viable for a number of reasons. Besides eliminating the glass-making process' emissions from the equation, this alternative also counts on the boxes being lighter, thus reducing the carbon dioxide footprint that its transportation requires. But the proposed materials (paper, plastic or aluminum), although ecologically-friendly, prove harder to separate and recycle.
The safest and most viable option, although it may prove difficult to implement on a global scale, as it has non-environment-related issues of its own, may be regular visits to a wine merchant with one's own recipients.