The Furnace For The Future and How This Will Impact on the Glass Packaging Industry
Aegg interviewed Fabrice Rivet, Environment, Health and Safety Director at the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE), about the Furnace For The Future (F4F) and how it will impact on the glass packaging industry in the UK and beyond. Read on to find out more...
This project marks a strategic milestone in achieving a climate neutral glass packaging industry with the move from natural gas to renewable electricity
Aegg: This venture to create the Furnace For the Future is key to keeping the future supply of glass packaging coming into the UK. Can you please give an overview of this major project?
This project marks a strategic milestone in achieving a climate neutral glass packaging industry with the move from natural gas to renewable electricity. There are many unique features of this project. FEVE is working with 19 companies from across Europe, representing 90% of European container production. By working together, these companies will co-finance the project in exchange for technical knowledge in the form of operational and technical data and training. The outcome will be to achieve good quality glass using renewable electricity. Ardagh has been chosen to build the furnace in Germany and will produce consumer bottles.
There are several technical challenges: the furnace needs to be of a commercial size, big enough to accommodate 350 tonnes per day
Initially, the furnace will be powered 80% by renewable electricity and 20% by fossil fuels, which will reduce the furnace’s existing CO2 emissions by 60%. This 20% will later be replaced by greener energy, such as hydrogen or biofuels.
There are several technical challenges: the furnace needs to be of a commercial size, big enough to accommodate 350 tonnes per day. Amber glass will be produced at the furnace, which is known for its UV protection layer used in beer bottles, for instance, but also known to be the most challenging colour to be produced in an electric furnace. And finally, we want to use a high level of post-consumer (recycled) glass, which is not the case at the moment for electric furnaces.
The F4F is an important step in Europe’s glass production becoming carbon neutral
Aegg: How will this impact on the glass packaging industry as a whole?
In the European context, there are 2 big pieces of legislation currently under discussion; (i) the “fit for 55%” package imposing a 55% reduction by 2030 (ii) the “climate law” imposing 100% climate neutrality by 2050.
A glass furnace can last up to 15 years, so 2050 is only 2 new furnaces away from becoming climate neutral. If companies miss the transition to become carbon neutral, it is likely that they will disappear. Therefore, the F4F is an important step in Europe’s glass production becoming carbon neutral and it is very important for the industry to have solutions to decarbonise.
Other initiatives include hydrogen and biofuels to ensure that we have different options for these transitions. The collaborative approach of the project and the associated knowledge sharing means the technology, once demonstrated, can be upscaled very quickly.
Aegg: How does the collaboration work on a practical level, with 19 container glass companies financially and technically involved (some of which, Aegg are in close partnership with)? How do you overcome the competition between the companies involved?
Cooperation with 19 companies from across Europe will not overcome competition. FEVE fully respects the anti-trust laws and we all have to be very mindful on the technical and legal aspects. At all meetings with the companies involved, anti-trust lawyers were present and agreements were in place. A cooperation agreement has been signed up by all participants and a special entity will be incorporated if we get the grant.
Every year, FEVE commissions consumer surveys. In the latest survey, over 90% preferred glass as a packaging material
Aegg: If successful, how will the EU Innovation Fund help with the project?
In the first application stage, there were 311 projects submitted to the EU Innovation Fund (created under the Emission Trading Directive). From these, 70 projects were chosen to proceed to phase 2. We are not at the end of the road yet, but we have taken very important steps towards it. The innovation fund can finance up to 60% of additional costs (CAPEX + OPEX), compared to conventional technology. As electricity is about 3 times more expensive than natural gas (depending upon the country), the grant is very important.
Aegg: How will the F4F impact on consumers’ lives?
Every year, FEVE commissions consumer surveys. In the latest survey, over 90% preferred glass as a packaging material. Glass is a permanent material, which means it will not deteriorate during the recycling process. So, it is infinitely recyclable, inert and gives a premium touch. If we want to be able in the future to provide glass to consumers, we need to decarbonise. as there is no place for emitting CO2 in Europe in the future.
For Europe as a whole, products in glass packaging, including champagnes, whiskies, and perfumes, exported a revenue value of 250 billion Euros in 2019
The container glass industry is present in different important value chains for the consumers: , the food and drink industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the cosmetics and perfume sectors,…. For Europe as a whole, products in glass packaging, including champagnes, whiskies, and perfumes, exported a revenue value of 250 billion Euros in 2019.
Aegg: Availability of glass has fluctuated over the last 2 years in some areas of Europe – will the F4F alleviate this problem and when do you expect production to start?
The plan with F4F is to replace an existing furnace so it will not impact on availability in the near future. The plan is start production during 2023 and ramp it up in phases to build on the necessary knowledge required. We are confident that we will be producing good quality glass using renewable electricity.
There is a project called ‘Close the glass loop’ and it involves the increase of glass collection in the EU from the current 76% to 90%, so that we can use more recycled glass in the furnace
Find out more, take a look below
Aegg: As well as F4F, are there other projects/ topics FEVE would like to highlight?
There is a project called ‘Close the glass loop’ and it involves the increase of glass collection in the EU from the current 76% to 90%, so that we can use more recycled glass in the furnace. This will reduce CO2 emissions by incorporating more recycled glass. We are creating partnerships, working with a lot of different stakeholders (EPR, glass recyclers, European customers associations,…).
We have also launched the new glass hallmark scheme, helping to raise awareness among consumers that choosing glass is something they can do today, to ensure a more sustainable tomorrow.
About Fabrice Rivet and FEVE
Fabrice is the Environment, Health and Safety Director at the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE). FEVE is the Federation of European manufacturers of glass containers and machine-made glass tableware. Its members produce over 20 million tonnes of glass per year. It is an international not-for-profit association, which currently has over 60 corporate members belonging to 22 independent corporate groups across the European Union, Switzerland and Turkey.
Fabrice also chairs the Environment Committee of Glass Alliance Europe, the European Alliance of Glass Industries which regroups all the glass industries to work on common issues. It is composed of 19 national glass associations and of the main sectors of the glass industries: container glass, flat glass, special glass, domestic glass and continuous filament glass fibres.
He worked previously at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, then for the Belgian Glass Association.
He has 20 years experience in environmental sciences, support to industry, European Affairs and lobbying.
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