type of pharmaceutical bottle

Which is Better for Pharmaceutical Products: Glass or Plastic?

When it comes to packaging in the pharmaceutical industry, there are two primary materials used for preserving the stability and quality of medical products — they include glass and plastic packaging materials. Choosing the right type of packaging is essential for ensuring the safety and effectiveness of a medicine or other products when patients use them.

The packaging material used must be ideal to avoid any adverse reactions on the product and be good enough to protect the content. Another packaging material used in the industry is metal, but glass and plastic are the most popular, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The use of pharmaceutical glass bottles depends on their field of application. There are different types of glass packaging based on hydrolytic resistance, including type I, type II, and Type III glass.


Type I, type II, and Type III glass

Type I glasses can be used for packaging medicines with strong alkalis and acids levels

It is ideal for packaging material for most parenteral and non-parenteral preparations. 

Type II glasses are suitable for most neutral and acidic preparations — can be parenteral or non-parenteral preparations.

Type III glasses are best for non-parenteral preparations

However, type III glasses can be used for parenteral products where a stability test data approves its use.


As opposed to glass, plastic can break easily and is lightweight, can be made flexible, soft, or hard, depending on the requirements. When choosing the ideal plastic container, it is essential to consider factors such as whether the drug is solid or liquid, how it will be dispensed and administered.


Environmental and Recycling Properties

Another factor to consider between the glass and plastic packaging is their environmental and recycling properties. Glass requires more energy to produce and ship. Still, it is 100% recyclable, meaning that every time glass is recycled, the final product has no loss of quality at all. Also, glass can be reused when washed and sterilized

Plastics can also be recycled but can degrade with each cycle. It means that when you recycle a plastic bottle, it is good enough to produce another bottle for medical purposes. Instead, it can be used for synthetic clothing, carpets, or other products. Hence, plastic isn’t 100% recyclable.

The effects that glass and plastic have on the environment are clear-cut. Glass accounts for a substantial amount of garbage in Malaysia and across the world, meaning that although it is recyclable, it somehow finds its way to the landfill anyway. Even though glass is long-lasting, it is produced from natural materials while plastic is synthetic and makes up a more significant percentage of garbage in landfills than glass.

Lots of medicines and other pharmaceutical products can be packaged in both plastic and glass. The ability for glass or plastic to tolerate an active ingredient depends on its composition. However, careful examination of the drugs is required at an early stage. The test should be done when clinical testing for the primary packaging starts. The aim is to ensure that all potential interactions between the packaging and contents are recorded and risk-free.


General Pharmaceutical Applications

When it comes to general pharmaceutical applications, glass and plastic complement each other with their specific properties and benefits. 

The active ingredient is usually the top priority to consider when it comes down to the choice of packaging. But, as mentioned before, it all comes down to application. There are some products whereby glass will be more suitable, and there are others that are better being distributed in plastic packaging.


In a Nutshell

When choosing a packaging solution, aim for a packaging solution that increases the efficiency of the drug to ensure that they are delivered in the safest way possible. 

MH Multipack Sdn Bhd is a pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer / pharmaceutical glass bottles manufacturer with 22 years of experience and know-how. We provide one-stop solutions in Smart Packaging System compatible with Industry 4.0. For your efficient packaging solution, please feel free to get in touch with us.