Glass is more relevant than ever and offers benefits in terms of health, sustainability and a circular economy but according to FEVE (the European Container Glass federation), these attributes go unrecognised.
In an exclusive interview with FoodProductionDaily, newly appointed FEVE president Erik Bouts, also president, Owens-Illinois (O-I) Europe, admitted the association has to strengthen its ties with national associations and continue to partner on initiatives with organisations such as Friends of Glass.
Sending out a message
Bouts joined FEVE in June after replacing Stefan Jaenecke, CEO, Verallia Deutschland. He began his role with O-I in January last year after working as CEO of the Glidden Company, part of AkzoNobel Architectural Paints Division in the US.
He said he wants to make sure the association maintains and builds an integrated approach to getting its messages across.
“There is no doubt our industry faces different challenges such as increased regulatory pressure, increased costs of energy and raw materials,” added Bouts.
“But, the biggest challenge is our stakeholders need to get major visibility on the unique and major benefits of choosing glass as a packaging product.
“We need to do more with industry customers and retailers to make sure they fully appreciate the reasons why consumers’ opinion is largely in favour of glass (health safety, taste preservation, environmental benefits, design).
“The European glass packaging industry is putting a lot of resources into innovation and quality of service. This is vital in a food and drink market where creative, sustainably sound and convenient products are increasingly in demand.
“The biggest challenge for the industry in the next five years is to be more vocal, to stand up as a forward looking industry because glass is more relevant than ever from different perspectives: our products resonate with the EU’s policy agenda, the industry itself is a concrete example of a circular economy, and we provide consumers with natural and pure packaging which are in tune with today’s health conscious consumers.”
FEVE expands its scope
Bouts said Europe is the world's largest producer of container glass and employs around 50,000 people in 160 plants and more along the entire value chain.
Its members are spread across 23 European countries and produce in almost all European member states.
“Over the last few years, FEVE has expanded its scope. I want to build on the successful work of Stefan and I think we are ready for the next step in our journey,” he added.
“Glass is more relevant than ever and offers technology for today’s challenges in terms of health, sustainability and circular economy. We realize however, these benefits are not known and that means we can do a better job in communicating and engaging with our stakeholders.”
Bouts said as part of his role he will represent the industry at a European level and ensure manufacturers operate in a workable EU legislative framework.
“We have to educate and engage with stakeholders, customers and consumers to ensure the benefits of glass are understood,” he added.
“Over the next couple of months, I will work closely with my peers and meet key stakeholders to identify current perceptions and needs and start working on a vision for the future.
“In the meantime, we continue to monitor and engage in a number of legislative and technical dossiers. We want to proactively ensure our stakeholders understand the full benefits of glass as an example of a circular economy which provides local jobs, creates value and is good for the environment not only because our waste is also our resource.”