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EU study talks up the green potential of glass

By staff reporter , 17-Nov-2008

A European Commission report calls for glass to be branded an energy-friendly product and calls on the industry to educate policy makers on the benefits of the material.

The study commissioned by the Enterprise and Industry DG urges policy makers to consider the environmental and energy benefits of glass when designing new environmental policies.

According to the report, glass is pure and nature as well as a reusable product and falls perfectly in line with the EU's Waste Framework Directive hierarchy.

The study does highlight, however, that the relatively high energy intensity of glass production makes reducing carbon emissions a major challenge for the sector, with the technologies used to minimise energy use already mature and that short term increases in efficiency are likely to be limited.

The publication also stresses that the environmental advantages of recycling glass may be destroyed if the industry, which is the major buyer of recycled glass, moved production to lower manufacturing cost regions outside of Europe, where environmental regulation is less stringent or non-existent.

Meanwhile, production of glass within Europe is showing a positive turnaround amidst processor concerns over economic and environmental factors, according to the industries association.

The use of glass in bottles, jars and flacons was up by four per cent in 2007 over the same period the previous year, according to the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE).

With manufacturers facing growing pressures to ensure improved environmentally friendly manufacture and reduced packaging costs, both industries claim to be well placed to meet food and beverage industry needs.

And prices for glass remain stable and demand strong despite the recent credit crunch.

Dominique Tombeur, president of FEVE, said the figures indicated a positive turnaround for the industry after years of stagnation, reflecting the strong potential for glass packaging in food, wine and cosmetics manufacturer.

“It sends an encouraging signal to the industry to keep investing in new furnaces and upgrades, new products and processes,” he stated.

Tombeur claimed that European interests in sustainable packaging materials will put glass in a unique position to meet the specific green needs of processors.

“Its 100 per cent recyclable credentials and its use of some of the earth’s most abundant raw materials – sand, soda ash and limestone – makes glass a very good story when it comes to environmental protection and contribution to combating climate change,” he stated.

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