Our future is glass

The sustainable packaging choice for the 21st century

As the Glass Packaging Industry, we are a leader in the implementation of the Circular Economy in Europe (we collect glass packaging for more than 40 years and have achieved a recycling rate of 78%). We are committed to enable the transition to a resource efficient and low-carbon economy. By doing so, we want to support the EU commitments to the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and ensure our business goals are relevant and functional to them.

Our Commitment To The SDGs

The circular production of a food grade packaging solution with an endlessly recyclable, reusable and permanent material such as glass is inherently relevant to the Sustainable Consumption and Production Goal (SDG 12), while efforts made by the industry in efficiently managing resources and energy, and in reducing CO2 emissions go on par with the Climate Action Goal (SDG 13).

We truly believe in a more sustainably-sound future and we strive for it. But there are major challenges ahead of us, which need synergies and breakthrough technologies to be addressed. As a closed loop production system, we are inclusive by nature and we work in tight partnership with the whole value chain – from the energy and raw material suppliers to the end consumer – to make sure our Circular Economy works better and better (SDG 17). We need to work arm in arm with policy makers to ensure that future decisions improve the investment conditions, stimulate innovation and keep the industry competitive in Europe. We need to continue to earn consumers support in making sure glass bottles and jars are put back in the production loop at the end of their life.

As the Glass Packaging Industry, we truly believe in a more sustainable future and we are committed to it.

Container Glass & The Circular Economy

Glass is critical to ensuing sustainable consumption and production patterns,
it is a permanent material that is infinitely recyclable as well as reusable and refillable. SDG 12 calls for the design and adoption of a responsible circular business model and closed material loops.

Glass is made from recycled glass, sand, soda ash and limestone and has the great advantage of never losing its properties no matter how many times it is recycled. It can be recycled infinitely in a closed loop and always remains suitable for food grade packaging. Glass also offers a reusable option for customers who are part of refund schemes. Refillable bottles can be reused up to 40 times and still be recycled at the end of life.

By having fully integrated glass recycling into our industrial processes for decades and advocating for separate collection systems of glass across the EU, the industry is a pioneer of the Circular Economy model for packaging in Europe and therefore a key enabler of a Responsible Consumption and Production lifestyle. We incorporate more recycled content than virgin materials in our packaging: on average 52% recycled content.

Between 1990 and 2012 we calculated EU consumption of products packed in glass increased by 39% while glass recycling increased by 139%. Today, in the EU 74% of glass packaging put on the market is recycled.

Our Industry Goal

We aim to increase quantity and quality of available recycled glass in collaboration with the value chain. It is our vision to achieve 100% actual recycling of collected glass packaging.

Container Glass & Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our planet and will impact all our children’s futures. Everyone can play a part to reduce CO2 emissions and fend off global warming. As Industries using energy we have a special role to play to ensure we pass on a healthy planet to future generations and reduce emissions associated with our own and supply chain operations.

That is why our industry has switched to more environmentally friendly sources of energy, nearly all our plants now operate on natural gas. Second, we are reducing the amount of energy needed to produce glass which is a driver of competitiveness in our sector as energy accounts for well over 20% of our costs in Europe . The fuel you don’t use is also best for the environment so increasing efficiency rates and low carbon technologies to produce more glass with less energy is a main driver in our sector. We have decreased by 50% the amount of energy used per tonne of glass over the last 40 years.

Thirdly one of the best ways to reduce energy and our CO2 footprint is to use more recycled glass (known as cullet). Glass is made from sand, soda ash and limestone and is a permanent material that once produced can be endlessly recycled into new products. By using recycled glass, we replace virgin materials and avoid the CO2 emissions released when virgin materials are first transformed into glass. Also melting temperatures can be lowered, and in this way emissions are dramatically reduced. We can save on virgin resources, energy and costs all at the same time. The FEVE LCA study shows that, on a cradle-to-cradle basis, 1 tonne of recycled glass (cullet) saves 0.58 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of finished glass. For every 10% of cullet added to the batch, energy consumption goes down by 3% and CO2 by 5%.

Fourthly, we have reduced the weight of glass bottles by 20% on average, and up to 50% in the last 20 years. New right weight technologies mean less raw material, less energy and less CO2. Our companies are responsible for some of the world’s lightest bottles while retaining their quality and strength, and environmental performance. Thanks to combined technologies, we have decoupled our production from our CO2 emissions.

Since 2008, we emit 5% less CO2 for every tonne of glass on average. This figure is the average of all our 160 plants in Europe and not just the best performers.

Our Industry Goal

We aim to continuously decarbonize the production process, by making use of available low carbon emission energy sources and other low carbon technologies.

Container Glass & European Industry Partners

In an increasingly unstable global environment, making progress against the SDGs is not merely an option: it’s a business and societal imperative. We are strongly committed to working in partnership with our members, policymakers, academics, all parts of the supply chain and other stakeholders across and even outside the glass industry, to identify powerful and practical solutions to optimize our Circular Economy and supply the market with a packaging solution which truly represents our industry sustainability engagement.

Across the European Union, strong public-private partnerships are linking public authorities with the glass industry, value chain partners and consumers on common projects to increase the quantity and quality of recycled glass for maximum resource-efficiency.

We are working with our customers in the EU Product Environmental Footprint project to design sets of rules for carrying out environmental impact assessments and we are committed to working to develop these methods addressing all impacts of packaging from cradle to cradle.
We are supporting our customers on their social commitments to promote responsible drinking and ensure that alcoholic products are enjoyed in moderation.

Our Industry Goal

We aim to build long term partnerships with the value chain as well as consumers, NGOs and other stakeholders to achieve sustainability goals.

Read more about our contributions