Encirc and Diageo Launch Hydrogen-Powered Furnace to Advance UK Glass Manufacturing Industry

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by KnowESG,

Diageo plc

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Encirc, a major glass manufacturer and co-packer, and Diageo, a global leader in luxury alcoholic beverages, have announced a collaboration to develop the world's first net zero glass bottles on a large scale by 2030.

Encirc, a Vidrala business, is to construct a new furnace at its Elton plant in Cheshire that will change the face of glass. The furnace will do the following:

  • Reduce carbon emissions by 90% with an energy mix of green electricity and low-carbon hydrogen. It is expected that carbon capture technology will capture the remaining carbon emissions by 2030

  • Be powered by zero-carbon electricity and hydrogen from the Vertex (HyNet)plant in Cheshire

  • Be fully operational by 2027

  • Produce up to 200 million Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Gordon’s and Tanqueray bottles annually by 2030

Encirc is already a pioneer in sustainable glass production and glass future-proofing. Encirc, in partnership with glass industry partners 'Glass Futures,' trialled one of their furnaces for sustainable biofuels on numerous brands, including Diageo's Black & White bottles, in 2021, using 100% recycled glass to make the most sustainable bottles ever made. The carbon footprint of the bottles was up to 90% lower than that of a typical glass bottle.

Decarbonising glass packaging will be a key component of the UK government's commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and this is an example of UK leading companies collaborating to be innovative in using green energy to manufacture at scale.

Vertex Hydrogen, a partner in the government-backed HyNet North West cluster, the UK's leading industrial decarbonisation programme, will supply the hydrogen used to power the new furnace.

Glass Futures, based in St. Helens, is also helping decarbonise the glass industry and is a crucial partner for Encirc. It will be critical in testing sustainable fuels in furnaces and creating future furnace technology to help Encirc and the glass sector achieve goals.

Adrian Curry, Managing Director of Encirc, said: “This will be a major step in our goal of producing net zero glass by 2030. With support from the government and key partners, Encirc and Diageo, we believe it will be possible to have this first-of-its-kind furnace up and running at the beginning of 2027.

“Glass is an incredible material, being infinitely recyclable and chemically inert. It has been around since 3500 BC and has never been produced in this way. This is about protecting glass as a material by addressing the carbon challenge. The work we and Glass Futures undertake will be shared with the UK glass industry to ensure glass remains the packaging of choice for many thousands more years!”

Low-carbon alternative energy sources are an essential part of the solution for net zero. Hydrogen could be an important source of clean energy for businesses and industries in the UK and around the world.

Commenting, Ewan Andrew, President, Global Supply & Procurement, and Chief Sustainability Officer at Diageo said: “We are really excited to be a part of this world-leading announcement, which forms part of our commitment to halve our Scope 3 carbon emissions by 2030. All renewable energy options are important to us, and we’d like to see government and industry further accelerate the direct supply of green energy as a mainstream option. Ultimately, we look forward to a world where people can enjoy their favourite drinks from zero-carbon glass bottles.”

Joe Seifert, CEO of Vertex Hydrogen, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Encirc and Diageo with low carbon hydrogen as the UK continues to lead the world to deliver tangible decarbonisation at pace and scale.”

The adoption of the zero-carbon furnace will help Diageo meet its ESG action plan, Society 2030, and its pledge to reduce carbon emissions across its supply chain by 2030.

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Source: Diageo