New insights in sustainability and glass packaging

MEP Kathleen van Brempt calls glass industry promising role modelFEVE (The European Container Glass Federation) held a web conference last week on the glass packaging industry’s strong record on environmental sustainability and the health benefits of glass.

Speaking at the conference was European FEVE president, Niall Wall, Kathleen van Brempt from the European Parliament and FEVE Technical Director, Fabrice Rivet.

In the light of the upcoming European policy on recycling, Member of the European Parliament, Kathleen van Brempt stressed the importance for the industry of thinking and acting sustainably:  “Cradle to Cradle is our future. Not out of ideology, but out of necessity. The glass industry is in a strong starting position when it comes to recycling. Their attention to recycling and re-use of both materials and energy is promising. The Belgian experience with glass recycling shows that there is no reason why 'closing the loop' of the glass production cycle should not be possible on the EU-level. I hope this will be an example for others. Recycling is a mindset, so Europe must change its ways and keep pushing boundaries towards a sustainable future.”

Niall Wall welcomed Mrs Van Brempt’s strong focus on recycling. “Glass can be recycled without loss of quality over and over again. Recycling is not the same as downcycling.   If in the recycling process a material loses its quality and original properties then it is downcycling and where the next stop is essentially landfill.  It’s clearly not as good as having a material which maintains its properties and quality infinitely.”

The conference began with a presentation by FEVE on its environmental sustainability and the cradle to cradle lifecycle of glass. “The European Union is the biggest glass producer in the world. The glass container industry makes a valuable contribution to sustainability by preventing and reducing environmental pollution and protecting consumer health. A multi-use returnable bottle for example may be used over 40 times reducing its CO2 impact significantly and  the energy saved by recycling a single bottle could power a computer for 25 minutes” said Niall Wall, FEVE President.

When addressing the environmental aspects, FEVE Technical Director Fabrice Rivet pointed out the FEVE Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an initiative by the container glass industry to measure the industry’s impact. The study quantifies the savings on energy, raw materials and CO2 every time it recycles glass. Approximately 30% less energy is required to melt cullet in the furnace compared to virgin raw materials. For every 1 tonne of cullet used to produce 1 tonne of glass, 1.2 tonnes of raw materials are saved and nearly 0.7 tonnes of CO2 are avoided. The project will serve to inform container glass companies about environment-related decisions in the coming years and guide our industry towards improvements. The data is publicly available on the FEVE website ( and the EU Commission website .

Other insights highlighted during the conference were the health benefits of glass packaging.   Results from the European Packaging Survey conducted by global marketing research company TNS in September showed that 83% of consumers prefer glass packaging to plastic to protect products against chemical contamination, keep food and beverages healthy (83%) and contribute to a healthy lifestyle (88%).  It is clear from the survey that consumers are getting the message and that’s why the glass packaging industry continues to support the Friends of Glass initiative and the new  Friends of Glass health campaign – “Nothing to Hide.” The campaign will launch in twelve European countries starting the first week of October. For more information on the campaign, please visit

A replay of the conference will be archived on the FEVE website at


FEVE (The European Container Glass Federation) is the association of European manufacturers of glass packaging containers and machine-made glass tableware.

The federation represents the glass container industry at the international, and especially European, level and serves as a forum for examining common questions. FEVE maintains a dialogue with the European institutions and agencies on environmental, trade and other important issues. The federation promotes glass packaging and glass recycling, complementing the activities of the glass industry at the national level.

The Container Glass Industry in Figures

The EU is the world's largest producer of container glass. More than 20 million tonnes were produced in 2009 by some 159 plants spread across 23 Member States in Europe and which directly employ over  46,000 people.

In the global glass industry, including other sectors like flat glass, or special glass (glass fibres for building insulation), the container glass industry counts for approximately 60% of the total tonnage. Therefore it has a big impact on the real economy in the EU.

FEVE represents more than 60 members belonging to 22 corporate groups and operating in: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom. For more information on FEVE’s members, please visit

600450 New insights in sustainability and glass packaging

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