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Can the future of glass packaging be carbon-neutral?

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Can the future of glass packaging be carbon-neutral?

The session brought together Martin Petersson, CEO of Ardagh Glass – Europe and Vice-President of FEVE, and Fabrice Rivet, FEVE’s Director of Environment, Health and Safety, moderated by Adeline Farrelly as FEVE Secretary General.

Missed the live session? Read our breakdown of the four key take-aways from the event.

1. Glass is the key to a carbon neutral future

Truly sustainable packaging doesn’t just need to be endlessly recyclable without loss of quality; it also has to meet consumer expectations and brand needs. Glass is a unique packaging material because it meets all these requirements. With ever-increasing use of recycled glass, we can reduce emissions whilst also delivering on health and safety requirements, a long shelf life, premiumisation options and consumer experience. Not only that, but as Martin Petersson points out, glass is also ideally suited to low-emission reuse models – models which are becoming increasingly popular in the minds of brands and retailers.


2. Higher glass recycling rates will allow us to significantly reduce our carbon emissions

According to Martin Petersson, for every tonne of glass that is recycled, around 580kg of CO2 is saved throughout the supply chain. That’s why we launched the Close the Glass Loop initiative in 2020, with an eye to meeting our climate neutrality commitments through collecting more and better glass. The initiative brings together players from all parts of the glass collection and recycling value chain, to ultimately bring glass recycling collection rates in the EU up to 90% by 2030. It’s an ambitious commitment to sustainability, and one that will be underpinned by a new type of furnace that marks the shift to renewable energy.

3. The Furnace for the Future is powering the shift to renewable energy 

The Furnace for the Future (F4F) is a major strategic initiative to fully decarbonise glass production, jointly championed by 19 independent companies who account for more than 90% of the total glass container production in Europe.  The initiative looks to trial a new furnace technology which is 80% powered by renewable electricity but still produces all types of glass from post-consumer cullet, potentially leading to CO2 savings of more than 50%. While electric melting already works for small-scale furnaces for clear glass with limited recycled glass content, the F4F can make it work for much bigger furnaces, for all glass colours and using high amounts of recycled glass.

“We need to go big. Existing electric furnaces are typically producing 100 tonnes per day – we want to upscale this to 350 tonnes per day” – Fabrice Rivet

4. Sectoral decarbonisation will require investment

It’s clear that to achieve carbon neutrality, the glass packaging industry needs to continue investing into R&D, scalable technologies and a significant energy transition – and these sectoral initiatives need the support of authorities. The Furnace for the Future is one project which is hoping to receive the backing of an EU grant under the Innovation Fund of the Emission Trading Directive. More broadly, Fabrice Rivet points out that decarbonisation is tied to availability and price of renewable energy sources: if renewable energy prices were lower, and more evenly priced across geographical areas, the industry could more readily invest in decarbonisation initiatives and quickly scale up any promising technologies all around Europe.

It’s an ambitious call to transform an industry. But by addressing our biggest problem (CO2), the industry can offer a future-proof packaging that is healthy, circular and climate-neutral – one that can sustainably meet growing consumer demand.

Did you learn something about what the glass industry is doing to decarbonise? Have an idea of your own on how the carbon-neutral glass packaging industry of the future will look? Head over to LinkedIn and let us know! To keep up-to-date with the latest trends in the glass industry or our upcoming Q&As, don’t forget to follow our new LinkedIn account: @glasshallmark.

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