In the current economic crunch, architects and designers are considering plastics for certain applications in order to cut costs, but a recurring question is whether it is an environmentally friendly option. Christo Pienaar, marketing director of the Ampaglas Plastics Group, says, “The perception is that glass is the more eco-friendly option because it is seen as a ‘natural’ product. But sustainability and eco-friendliness are dependent on a number of factors besides biodegrability.” Pienaar points out that to make glass, a high-powered oven is used at a temperature of 1500°C or higher. All this heat means high levels of energy consumption and results in a substantial amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Some calculations – factoring in the transport of glass, which is a relatively heavy product – indicate that this could be as much as two tons of CO2 per ton of glass.