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Life cycle assessment of continuous filament glass fibre products

Glass Fibre Europe has commissioned PwC – Sustainable Performance and Strategy to prepare a report on the life cycle assessment (LCA) of continuous filament glass fibre (CFGF) products. The new report is an update of two previous studies based on 2010 and 2015 data. The report is publicly available and can be downloaded from here.

The updated report is based on 2021 manufacturing data collected by PwC from 11 plants based in the European Union, the United-Kingdom and Norway. The report covers Glass Fibre Europe members’ production of chopped strands (dry and wet), direct rovings (single end rovings), assembled rovings (multi end rovings), and mats (chopped strand mats, continuous filament mats). These continuous filament glass fibre products represent the majority of the reinforcement used in thermosetting and thermoplastic composites applications. The analysis is a cradle-to-gate approach: it is an assessment of the product life cycle impacts from the raw material extraction and manufacture (‘cradle’) to the factory exit gate (i.e. before it is transported to the customer). The use and disposal phases of the products are not covered.

“For over a decade, Glass Fibre Europe’s LCA reports have contributed demonstrating the advantages of using composites as sustainable solutions. The report is now updated with the latest available data and methodology, and our member companies hope it will continue promoting the use of LCA methodology through the value chain,” said Cédric Janssens, Secretary General of Glass Fibre Europe.

Glass Fibre Europe data are going to be shared with the Association of the European Composites Industry (EuCIA) for a future update of the “Eco Impact Calculator for composites,” an online tool calculating the environmental impact of composite products in Europe.

The report shows that, between 2015 and 2021, the European industry has reduced the primary energy consumed to produce 1 kg of continuous filament glass products by 8.1 percent on average and greenhouse gas emissions by 3.2 percent on average. In terms of circular economy, 44 percent of the industry’s production waste has been recycled in 2021, a remarkable progress when compared to previous reference year: 26 percent in 2015.

“The European glass fibre industry has the ambition to become climate neutral by 2050 and that zero internal waste ends up in landfills. We know that the journey towards climate neutrality is very challenging but also exciting for our industry. It is therefore encouraging that the latest LCA report clearly shows that the investments made by the industry are paying off and that we could reduce the environmental footprint of our products,” said Ludovic Piraux, President of Glass Fibre Europe.

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