Decarbonizing the glass industry

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In France, ~50 industrial sites produce around 5 Mt of glass per year for targeted uses:

  • Float glass represents 74% of the total production in 2016 and is used in packaging and tableware;
  • Flat glass (16%) is mainly used in the construction and automotive sectors;
  • Glass fiber and wool (9%) is mainly used for construction.

France is the second European producer of glass behind Germany.

The glass sector in France represents 3% of energy consumption and 3% of greenhouse gas emissions from the industrial sector.

Carbon emissions linked to the production of glass primarily stem not only from the combustion of natural gas to reach the melting temperature of the inputs, but also from the release of CO2 by the raw materials  required to conduct such a process (soda and calcium carbonates).

The main challenges of the sector are to decarbonize the thermal energy input required for glass production and reduce emissions linked to raw materials through recycling.

R&D and pilot projects were launched in Europe to use hydrogen, biomass and carbon-free electricity vectors. Since most technologies can only be implemented when the melting furnace is renewed, long-term planning is essential.

As far as recycling is concerned, the incorporation of cullet (recycled glass material) instead of raw materials is a good way to avoid carbon emissions. Recycling is very advanced in certain sectors (packaging glass), and emerging for others (building). Setting up a collection channel and making commitments to incorporate cullet into the production chain are essential to activate this leverage. The Extended Producer Responsibility system (“Responsabilité élargie du producteur”, in French), ensuring that a glass producer remains liable for the environmental impact of its products throughout their life cycle, applies today to packaging and end-of-life vehicles. It will also apply to the construction sector in 2022.

Find the PTS Glass Memo in the Publications.

Find out more about Sector Transition Plans.