As a laboratory manager, you need to take a number of factors into consideration when choosing supplies for your laboratory. These factors include safety, effectiveness, and cost, as well as the type of work you are doing, and are especially important when considering bottles for your lab.

After all, bottles are in use all day for storing, transporting, and mixing materials, and your work comes to a standstill without proper ones. Choosing one type over the other when the other is more effective is a massive waste of money, and could result in improperly performed work. Here are some items to think about when choosing glass or plastic bottles.


Generally, it is more difficult to break plastic than glass if dropped. However, the chemicals contained can make plastic more brittle, and, depending on how it is made, glass can be very durable. In instances where glass does break, though, those in the lab may be injured or exposed to dangerous chemicals or pathogens while cleaning up the spill. Even minor injuries may bring up issues with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

Regardless of whether you choose glass or plastic, both can be damaged by extreme changes in temperature. Some manufacturers of both types have developed processes for making the bottles more resilient in these instances.

The Chemicals you are Working With

The chemicals and compounds your work is involved with may not be compatible with certain types of bottles. You can find information about compatibility with our bottles in the Chemical Resistance Chart of our Technical Data eCatalog.

Also, there are chemicals in some plastics that may leach into whatever the bottle holds, though there are plastic containers manufactured without these chemicals.

Use in Procedures

Some plastic bottles may not be able to withstand the procedures you use in your lab daily. It is best to ask the manufacturer for what procedures have their bottles of either type been tested. Most glass bottles can be centrifuged, but you may not be able to use plastic bottles in a centrifuge. Similarly, some plastic bottles are not autoclavable, while many glass bottles are. This, though, refers to the bottles themselves; please check with the manufacturer to see if the caps used in either glass or plastic bottles are also autoclavable.

Purchasing and Long-Term Costs

Plastic bottles generally have lower costs than glass bottles as plastic is less expensive than glass to produce. You may also find plastic to be less expensive over time, depending on how often glassware needed to be replaced due to breakage.

Environmental Friendliness

Both glass and plastic bottles may be recyclable, and may be manufactured from recycled materials. Percentages of recycled materials used will vary depending on manufacturer.


For samples that are light sensitive or otherwise need storage in colored containers, both glass and plastic bottles are available in clear and opaque colors.

Ask Us Your Questions

If you need help determining whether your project would be best suited to glass or plastic bottles, please give us a call. We at Wheaton are here to serve our customers with the best products, advice, and information possible.