Posted in | News | Composites | Packaging

Glass Packaging Helps to Reduce Carbon Emissions: Study

The North American glass container industry has taken a pioneering step in producing the first complete and thorough cradle-to-cradle life cycle assessment (LCA) ever conducted for the industry.

The LCA, coordinated by the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), reaffirms the benefits of glass container recycling for the environment. The use of recycled glass (cullet) in manufacturing results in a decrease in primary energy demand and reduces carbon emissions. A "cradle-to-cradle" LCA includes the entire cradle-to-grave life cycle of a product while factoring in the recycling of the used product back to its original purpose.

"The LCA confirms the industry is on the right track with the goal to use 50 percent recycled glass in the manufacture of new glass bottles and jars by the end of 2013," said Joseph Cattaneo, president of the Glass Packaging Institute. "In creating more recycling awareness and working to improve recycled glass collection, the industry is helping boost the cullet content in manufacturing. The study shows increased cullet helps reducing energy emissions, conserve raw materials, extend the life of glass manufacturing furnaces, and save energy."

While other industries claim that the transportation of glass bottles has more of an environmental impact because of the weight of the containers, a key finding of the LCA dismisses this claim. The transportation of raw materials and cullet used in glass production represents less than 4 to 5 percent of the total energy used in the production of container glass.

While each glass container has its own carbon profile, on average, existing recycle rates offset the CO2 burden when shipping foods and beverages across America. The 50 percent content rate will only serve to further reduce carbon emissions. Therefore, when examining the entire life cycle of a packaging material, one must also consider the environmental impact of raw material extraction, production, transportation and end use treatment. The conclusion: when looked at it in its entirety, the environmental benefits stemming from the recycling of glass containers more than offset any increased impact generated by slightly heavier containers.

"The North American glass container industry purposely conducted a cradle-to-cradle LCA to obtain a total picture of our industry's environmental impact," said Mr. Cattaneo. "We knew that for an LCA to be useful and to serve as an appropriate benchmark, it had to be cradle-to-cradle. For consumers and retailers to be able to compare the environmental impact of one packaging material to another, all industries should consider conducting complete life cycle analyses. Only then will we have clarity."

Glass containers are endlessly recyclable, made from all-natural ingredients (sand, soda ash, limestone, and recycled glass), and glass is the only packaging material accepted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "GRAS" or "generally recognized as safe" for food and beverage contact.

A leading sustainability consulting firm, PE Americas, conducted the study examining each step from raw material extraction to end-use. The closed-looped cradle-to-cradle LCA collected data from 105 furnaces representing 75 percent of North American glass container production.

There are areas that an LCA is not designed to study where glass excels for both the consumer and the environment. Recent surveys continue to show that most consumers say glass maintains the flavor and shelf life of foods and beverages longer than any other commercial container and is least likely to leach toxins into the packaged products. The trust and premium image glass bottles and jars maintains with consumers is only reinforced by the standard-setting methodology and results of the glass container LCA.

LCA participating companies in North America include Gallo Glass; Leone Industries; Owens-Illinois, Inc. (O-I); Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc.; and Vitro Packaging, LLC. The study was conducted in parallel with a study for the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE) and its member companies. The methods employed in developing the life cycle impacts are comparable between the two studies, and life cycle assessment and glass experts conducted both studies according to strict ISO 14040/44 guidelines. Both studies also underwent a rigorous critical independent peer review.

Source: http://www.gpi.org/

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Submit
Azthena logo

AZoM.com powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Azthena logo with the word Azthena

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from AZoNetwork.com.

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.