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FEVE: new insights in sustainability and glass packaging

FEVE (The European Container Glass Federation) held a web conference on 29 September 2010 on the glass packaging industry“s strong record on environmental sustainability and the health benefits of gl…

FEVE (The European Container Glass Federation) held a web conference on 29 September 2010 on the glass packaging industry“s strong record on environmental sustainability and the health benefits of glass. Speaking at the conference was European FEVE president, Niall Wall, Kathleen van Brempt from the European Parliament and FEVE technical director, Fabrice Rivet. In the light of the upcoming European policy on recycling, Member of the European Parliament, Kathleen van Brempt stressed the importance for the industry of thinking and acting sustainably: Cradle to Cradle is our future. Not out of ideology, but out of necessity. The glass industry is in a strong starting position when it comes to recycling. Their attention to recycling and re-use of both materials and energy is promising. The Belgian experience with glass recycling shows that there is no reason why “closing the loop“ of the glass production cycle should not be possible on the EU-level. I hope this will be an example for others. Recycling is a mindset, so Europe must change its ways and keep pushing boundaries towards a sustainable future. Wall welcomed Mrs. Van Brempt“s strong focus on recycling. Glass can be recycled without loss of quality over and over again. Recycling is not the same as downcycling. If in the recycling process a material loses its quality and original properties then it is downcycling and where the next stop is essentially landfill. It“s clearly not as good as having a material which maintains its properties and quality infinitely. The conference began with a presentation by FEVE on its environmental sustainability and the cradle to cradle lifecycle of glass. The European Union is the biggest glass producer in the world. The glass container industry makes a valuable contribution to sustainability by preventing and reducing environmental pollution and protecting consumer health. A multi-use returnable bottle for example may be used over 40 times reducing its CO2 impact significantly and the energy saved by recycling a single bottle could power a computer for 25 minutes, said Wall. When addressing the environmental aspects, Rivet pointed out the FEVE Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an initiative by the container glass industry to measure the industry“s impact. The study quantifies the savings on energy, raw materials and CO2 every time it recycles glass. Approximately 30% less energy is required to melt cullet in the furnace compared to virgin raw materials. For every 1 tonne of cullet used to produce 1 tonne of glass, 1.2 tonnes of raw materials are saved and nearly 0.7 tonnes of CO2 are avoided. The project will serve to inform container glass companies about environment-related decisions in the coming years and guide our industry towards improvements. The data is publicly available on the FEVE website ( and the EU Commission website. Other insights highlighted during the conference were the health benefits of glass packaging. Results from the European Packaging Survey conducted by global marketing research company TNS in September showed that 83% of consumers prefer glass packaging to plastic to protect products against chemical contamination, keep food and beverages healthy (83%) and contribute to a healthy lifestyle (88%). It is clear from the survey that consumers are getting the message and that“s why the glass packaging industry continues to support the Friends of Glass initiative and the new Friends of Glass health campaign – Nothing to Hide. The campaign will launch in 12 European countries starting the first week of October. For more information on the campaign, please visit A replay of the conference will be archived on the FEVE website at

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