Increased demand saw glass packaging production grow 1.9% in Europe in the first half of 2012, according to the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE).
In the first six months, the industry produced 10.9 million tonnes of glass compared to 10.7 million tonnes in the first half 2011.
The increase was led by Portugal (13%), Turkey (8.3%) and Poland (7%) as well as North and Central Europe (6.2%) and South and East Europe (5.1%).
Other EU countries like United Kingdom (2.9%), Germany (1.4%) and Spain (1%) kept the steady trend of previous years.
France and Italy were the only nations to report a fall in production with -2.6% and -3.4% respectively from the first half of 2011.
FEVE members include Ardagh, O-I, Verallia, Bormioli Rocco & Figlio and Beatson Clark.
Benefits of glass
A spokesman for FEVE told FoodProductionDaily.com that glass packaging for wine, beer, spirits remains strong and there is increasing interest in its use for food and dairy products.
"Glass is seen as a premium packaging solution while being very competitive towards other solutions. With glass packaging is not only a commodity rather having a very important function in keeping the product original and pure."
He added that in the last 20 years light weighting process has allowed to reduce weight of bottles of 30%.
"The research progress also to improve other glass characteristics. The thermal hardening process has allowed to increase the breaking resistance of glass. This means that glass bottles can become lighter, become more resistant to internal pressure as well as to other shocks."
The group said despite the unstable economic and financial crisis, the records shed a positive light on the stability and future prosperity of the European container glass sector but challenges remained.
“Despite encouraging results, the impact of the long-winded financial crisis on the industry continues to weigh heavily on the competiveness of the EU industry,” it said.
“Increasing energy prices, unilateral CO2 costs, fluctuating and unfavourable exchange rates and high labour costs hamper the cost competiveness at global level of the container glass sector.
“Combined, these challenges delay long-term investments decisions and rather become incentives for delocalisation of production sites and R&D investments outside EU to more industry friendly environments with lower costs.”
Last year, glass packaging production volumes grew by 4.2% and the group estimated more than 50 billion units were produced by about 160 plants.
US energy efficiency
Meanwhile, in the US, the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI) has welcomed legislation passed by the House and the Senate which places a focus on important energy efficiency measures, as it provides opportunities to increase efficiency at the manufacturing level and reduce energy usage.
The legislation, passed to President Obama for consideration, encourages partnerships between the federal government and manufacturers.
Lynn Bragg, GPI president, said: “The glass container manufacturing industry continues its efforts to reduce energy use through the increased use of recycled glass.
“GPI strongly supports this bipartisan effort. This sets the framework for overall energy reduction, with the potential to support thousands of manufacturing jobs in the domestic glass container industry.”