HomePackaging and MOCAGlass packaging, demand is growing but so are production prices

Glass packaging, demand is growing but so are production prices

The production of the packaging in glass has increased, despite the energy crisis and the long wave of Covid. The main material for containing food and drinks is appreciated by consumers and conveys wine, sparkling wine and other jewels abroad Made in Italy. However, some critical issues pose a risk in terms of maintaining the recycling and circularity objectives of the sector.

Packaging in glass, recovery and critical issues

in 2022 the production of bottles in Italy increased by 1,5%, placing more than 2 billion pieces on the market, and that of jars by 2,5%, reports Assovetro, the Confindustria association of glass manufacturers.

To undermine the return to normalcyhowever, some critical factors are pressing: the volatility of energy prices and the increase in the price of scrap to levels never reached before, going from about 25 euro/ton to 200 euro/ton.

This increase, in addition to affecting the cost of the containers (on average, scrap represents about half of the raw materials used for the production of glass and 1/3 of the production cost), poses a risk in terms of maintaining the recycling objectives and circularity of the sector: the cost of using scrap has now exceeded that of the raw material.

Despite continuing critical factors, the glass packaging industry has continued to grow. 2023 should be a year of adjustment to allow us to face the challenges of the future of the glass packaging industry, such as decarbonisation with the search for new energy vectors. (Roberto Cardini, President of the container section of Assovetro).

Recycling and reuse, a sustainable coexistence

The reuse is the central objective of the proposal for a European regulation on packaging and packaging waste (Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, PPWR file). The challenge requires remodeling consumer habits and logistics (the breaking point of the environmental advantage of reuse is estimated at 100 km), as well as the creation of new models of business.

in 2021 the reuse involved 186.000 tons of glass containers. Especially in supply chains such as those of water and milk, glass lends itself perfectly to reuse, thanks to its properties which make it extraneous to any risk of chemical transfer and contamination.

The recycling remains essential to accompany the transition. In this, Italy excels. The recycling of glass packaging waste from separate collections has reached 2,2 Mt and has a recycling rate of 76,6%, above the target by 75% by 2030. The glass industry is committed to reaching 90% by 2030.

Consumers prefer glass

Consumer preference for the the packaging in glass is known. Due to its food safety, sustainability and recyclability characteristics, glass was the only packaging material in Europe to have recorded an average growth of 8% in the last three years, against a generalized decline between 24 and 41 %.

Three quarters of consumers Europeans recommend buying products packaged in glass. The share rises to 85% among Italians, who are also the most 'recyclers' in Europe: 9 out of 10 declare that they separate waste collection. Furthermore, a product packaged in glass is more trusted by 70% of Italians, according to the InSites 2022 survey.

The lightness of the packaging Glass

In Italy the industry of glass consumes about 1,1 billion cubic meters of gas every year (about 1,5 percent of national consumption). An energy-intensive production that year after year pursues forms of energy saving in order to reduce the consumption of raw materials, energy and, consequently, CO2 emissions. In this logic, the weight of the containers has been reduced: -12% for wine bottles and -18% for sparkling wine.

The ever increasing use of glass scrap for the production of bottles, which in many cases today reaches 90%, makes the difference. Every 10% of scrap used to replace raw materials allows for a 2,5% energy saving and a 2% reduction in CO5 emissions.

The Italian hollow glass industry in figures

The industry of glass containers, the first European manufacture, with 16 companies and 39 plants is present in almost all regions of Italy, from North to South, with a greater concentration in the North. It has 7.800 employees, almost all with permanent contracts.

The turnover it is valued at 2,5 billion euros a year. In 2022 theimport of bottles and jars increased by 11,3% and the export decreased by 4,4%.

Within the 2024 5 new melting furnaces will be built (400 million investment) which will guarantee a 12% increase in production capacity. Three of these will go into operation in the next few weeks.

Marta Strinati 

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Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".

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