In the face of growing environmental crises, public health challenges and economic turbulence, one aspect of our future is clear: glass packaging. With a history dating back over 5,000 years, glass is one of the oldest and most trusted packaging materials, and one that continues to shape human civilisation, protect the environment and improve people’s lives today.
Glass means sustainable, innovative, healthy, reusable, and infinitely recyclable packaging – that’s what makes it a true champion of circularity, for policy makers, brands and consumers alike. Here are some of the credentials that make it such a unique material:
Glass is made from a combination of natural and sustainably sourced materials, namely sand, soda ash, limestone, and recycled glass content, also known as cullet. These materials are melted down in furnaces, and made into new glass containers that are both reusable and infinitely recyclable.
What’s more, glass is a permanent material, meaning that it can be endlessly recycled without loss of its intrinsic properties. Glass is also an inert material that always remains healthy and safe for food grade packaging, no matter how many times it is recycled.
As FEVE, we represent the European Glass Container Industry, which produces over 80 billion containers every year. We are proud to produce healthy, reusable and infinitely recyclable closed loop packaging. However, there’s more to glass packaging than just the container.
Glass packaging consists of the container and a closure, commonly referred to as a “cap”, which can be made of glass, metal, cork or plastic. The material used for the closure depends on the type of product the packaging holds.
The delivery of everyday commodities wouldn’t be possible without glass packaging. It serves, among other things, to protect, transport, convey information to the consumer through its design, and prevent waste. Thanks to its inherent properties, glass packaging is a strategic driver of the European economy, serving essential sectors like food, beverages and pharmaceuticals, as well as perfumery and cosmetics.
The benefits of glass packaging are clear: it’s sustainable, being 100% and infinitely recyclable, reusable, and refillable. It’s inert, with no synthetic chemicals, making it safe to store food and drinks in. It’s also a beautiful, iconic material, and consumers love it.
Glass is made from naturally occurring ingredients abundant in nature. The unique alchemy of sand, soda ash, limestone, and recycled glass continue to work its magic to create a wonderful material loved by people over the world. No other material or chemical layers are needed to complete it.
Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly with no loss in quality or purity. Glass recycling is a closed loop system, creating no additional waste or by-products. It is one of the very few examples where the same material can be recycled over and over again without loss of quality.
Glass bottles and jars can also be reused and refilled before being recycled into a new bottle at the end of their lives – making glass the leading reusable option for food and beverage consumers around the world, particularly in local markets. Reusing glass bottles reduces the overall impact and combined with recyclable solutions, it increases the sustainable value of glass many times over.
Glass is virtually inert and impermeable, making it the most stable of all packaging materials. There is no risk of harmful chemicals getting into the food or drinks that are packed in glass. No additional barriers or additives are needed.
The container glass industry services essential EU sectors (including food, beverage, pharmaceutical and cosmetics and perfumery) – not just in domestic markets, but as an enabler for the export of high-end products across the world. Moreover, more than 125,000 people work in the glass packaging value chain across Europe.
By 2050 the container glass industry aims to achieve a major revolution in producing glass that is fit for a circular and climate-neutral economy, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – securing the future of the sector and the jobs that depend on it across the value chain.