How glass can fill Europe’s Circular Economy and Climate Goals

In an era where sustainability is paramount, certain materials emerge as clear champions of environmental and economic stewardship.

Glass is an environmentally friendly material that strengthens the European circular economy, supports local employment, and boosts regional economies. This unassuming yet versatile material plays a significant role in sustainable development. It makes it an ideal choice for storing food, beverages, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products, while also generating lasting economic and social value.

Is glass the right material for the circular economy?

Glass is renowned for its recyclability. Unlike many other materials, glass can be recycled infinitely without losing its purity or quality. This unique property makes it an essential component of the circular economy, where products are reused, repaired, and recycled to minimize waste. By opting for glass, we reduce natural resources strain, cut down on landfill waste, and decrease pollution. The glass industry has also made significant advances in environmental performance over the past few decades. Today, glass is 30% lighter and 70% less energy-intensive to produce than fifty years ago. These improvements underscore the industry’s commitment to sustainability and innovation.

Boosting local economies and employment

Glass industry is a cornerstone of regional economies across Europe. By sourcing raw materials locally and investing in local manufacturing, the glass industry creates jobs and stimulates economic growth in communities. This regional focus reduces transportation emissions and ensures economic benefits are retained. Glass industry employment opportunities are diverse, ranging from skilled manufacturing positions to roles in research and development, ensuring a broad economic impact.

Is glass needed to reach Climate Neutrality by 2050?

The glass packaging industry is not resting on its laurels. In a bold and ambitious move, Europe’s industry has set its sights on climate neutrality by 2050. This goal reflects a profound commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions. Already, significant progress has been made in decarbonising glass production. Industry invests in new technologies and processes that reduce energy consumption and emissions. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to create a sustainable, climate-neutral future for glass packaging.

One of those possible solutions is the EVERGLASS project. This three-year EU funded project hopes to create an innovative machine to make glass recycling less energy intensive and more portable. Our aim is to have a prototype that uses lasers to recycle and generate recycled glass products by 2027.

The EVERGLASS project has the potential to revolutionize the glass packaging industry by making glass recycling more energy-efficient and portable. This innovation could significantly reduce the environmental impact of glass production and increase the availability of recycled glass products. By achieving these goals, the EVERGLASS project would contribute to the industry’s commitment to sustainability and climate neutrality by 2050.

The road ahead

The journey to climate neutrality is challenging, but the glass industry’s track record of innovation and sustainability gives reason for optimism. Continued advancements in production technology, increased recycling rates, and a steadfast commitment to environmental stewardship will be crucial. Consumers can also play a pivotal role by choosing glass products and supporting sustainable practices.

Glass is more than just a packaging material; it is a symbol of sustainability and economic resilience. Its unparalleled recyclability, local economic benefits, and ambitious climate goals make it a standout choice for a sustainable future. As we look towards 2050 and beyond, glass will be instrumental in shaping a greener, more sustainable world.