The AGC Glass Europe plant in Zeebrugge (Belgium) recently celebrated 90 years of glassmaking.
A ceremony was held on the evening of 7 September, and attended by Geert Bourgeois, Minister-President of Flanders and numerous other personalities from the worlds of politics, industry and the press. The AGC site in Zeebrugge is now the world’s largest producer of mirror glass. It is also home to the double glazing activity of AGC Fabrication Belgium-Seapane which celebrated its 40th anniversary on this occasion. The site currently employs around 210 people.
Since converting to glass processing, the site’s development has been synonymous with innovation in mirror glass, mainly by becoming more sustainable. In 1987 the plant opened a new mirror production line, the most productive and efficient in the world at the time, capable of producing mirror glass in large dimensions (6 x 3.21 m). Ten years later the company invested in a second line specialising in painted glass (shiny Lacobel glass and Matelac glass with satin finish). In 1995 it introduced another world-first with production of high-quality ecological mirror glass without copper and with a lifetime of up to three times traditional mirror glass. This product went on to win numerous international prizes and became a world benchmark, setting the standard for others to follow.
Indeed it still leads the way thanks to successive improvements since then, including the elimination of all lead and formaldehyde in 2007. Mirox 3G was the first mirror glass to meet the EU directive for reducing the amounts of dangerous substances. In the same year the plant began production of the first-ever antibacterial glass, capable of eliminating 99.9% of all bacteria that come in contact with it. Then in 2011 and 2015 respectively the plant began production of toughenable versions of Lacobel and Matelac, so that whereas previously being limited to interior decor applications they could be used in outside structures.
In 1975 Zeebrugge was the first plant in the Benelux to begin production of adhesive-bonded double glazing (the AGC Thermobel range), replacing the fused double glazing marketed under the name of Thermopane. Further developments were spurred on by the oil crisis of the mid-1970s and the consequent emphasis on better insulation in order to save energy, a trend that was further consolidated by the efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Today, in addition to its heat-insulating properties double glazing meets a variety of needs ranging from solar control and acoustic insulation to safety and aesthetics. AGC Fabrication Belgium-Seapane has led these developments ever since it first started 40 years ago.
“The development of the Zeebrugge site is synonymous with sustainable innovation, an approach that also lies at the root of the economic success and corporate social responsibility,” saidJean-François Heris, CEO of AGC Glass Europe.