Glass Bottles Reduce Impacts on Multiple Environmental Fronts
A more comprehensive approach and review of a package's total impact on the environment is now being considered by policymakers.
Glass container manufacturers continue to expand and strengthen efforts to reduce the environmental impacts associated with glass bottles and jars. While it’s well known that using recycled glass to produce new containers reduces energy use (2-3% less energy use for every 10% of recycled glass used in the batch), companies are also working directly with their customers to lower the overall environmental footprint of glass packaging. These initiatives recognize that a more comprehensive approach and review of a package’s total impact on the environment is now being considered by policymakers.
Glass bottles are contributing to brands that want to create an “eco-friendly” package. This spring, The Dreaming Tree, recognized as a Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery, launched revamped packaging as part of its California wine portfolio. The sleek new glass bottles represent The Dreaming Tree’s longstanding commitment to eco-conscious processes and materials in support of the planet.
The weight of the wine bottles, which are manufactured by Ardagh Group, have been scaled down to be ¼-lb lighter than the standard 750-ml size bottle, reducing the amount of fuel needed to transport the wines. The bottles also feature pressure-sensitive labels made with 100% recycled paper.
Some of the growth in sustainable wine production and packaging is fueled by a new environment-friendly logo that California wines can claim, which was approved for use by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. The “California Certified Sustainable” logo will join others declaring environmentally friendly practices.
For several consecutive years, Ardagh Group has also been awarded ENERGY STAR® plant certifications for superior energy performance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Three manufacturing facilities in Bridgeton, N.J., Dunkirk, Ind., and Madera, Calif., demonstrated best-in-class energy performance, executing within the top 25% nationwide for energy efficiency.
Oregon Refillable Bottle Program
In cooperation with the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), glass bottle manufacturer O-I has created 12-oz and 500-ml refillable bottles for breweries. The OBRC, which is the agency with oversight of the state’s bottle bill recycling program, has established drop-off sites for residents to return the refillable bottles. With an extensive in-state recycling infrastructure already in place, the OBRC is positioned to handle refillable bottle returns.
Double Mountain Brewery was the first to begin using refillable bottles, which are identifiable as refillable by both marking and weight. Consumers are encouraged to return the bottles instead of placing them in traditional recycling collection streams. By July, six additional Oregon breweries were slated to begin using the refillable bottles. OBRC estimates that 3.5 million refillable beer bottles will be sold in the first year once the expanded program begins.
Currently, bottles are sent to Montana to be washed and then sent back to Oregon for refilling. Plans for an in-state refillable bottle washing facility are under review. A refillable glass bottle can be used and refilled an average of 25 times before being removed from circulation and recycled into new containers. Refillables deliver at least 50% less CO2 emissions per hectoliter than aluminum cans. When returned for washing and reuse, a refillable bottle will use eight times less energy than a typical bottle.
These initiatives, along with planned furnace rebuilds at glass plants and state-of-the-art emissions reductions technology now used, are all part of the glass container industry’s innovation efforts to further reduce the environmental footprint of glass bottles and jars.
Any views or opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent those of Ceramic Industry, its staff, Editorial Advisory Board or BNP Media.