Glass packaging giant Owens-Illinois has flipped the switch on a recycled processing facility to transform discarded containers into new jars and bottles.
The Glass to Glass facility (located in Portland, Oregon) is a joint venture between O-I and eCullet, a firm specializing in developing advanced glass recycling technology. The plant will feed a steady stream of recycled glass to O-I’s Portland plant, just a few miles down the road.
The packaging company’s Portland produces upwards of 1m recycled-content bottles each day; the primary product is beer bottles furnished to the area’s booming craft-beer business. The facility employs plant employs approximately 200 people.
Pedro Tchmola, manager of O-I's Portland plant, said the recycling facility and eCullet partnership will help the packaging firm meet its green goals.
“Using recycled glass in our manufacturing process is important to O-I's sustainability efforts,” he said. “This new facility will help us to reduce our use of virgin raw materials, lowering our overall environmental impact.”
Tchmola stated that for every 10% of recycled glass introduced into manufacturing new glass packaging, energy costs are reduced by 2% to 3%, and greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 4% to 10%.
Clean and green
Part of the challenge of recycling glass and using it in manufacturing new packaging relates to quality. In order for recycled-content glass containers to meet high-quality standards, the recycled glass needs to be premium, and near pristine.
Ryan Modlin, O-I North America’s vice president of government relations, pointed out that a significant chunk of the recycled glass collected in the market comes from single-stream sources, mixed in a jumble with paper, metal and plastic discards. This can lead to glass that is too contaminated to be recycled and used to produce new containers.
In fact, one of the reasons why Portland was selected to be the home of the Glass to Glass plant is the high-quality recycled glass stream available from the Oregon Container Deposit Program. It also will produce recycled material made of glass culled from Washington.
O-I and eCullet executives first announced the joint venture in early 2013 and broke ground on the Glass to Glass facility in June. The new facility will provide jobs to approximately 15 people.