Görkem Elverici* was recently appointed CEO of Sisecam. In part two of this interview, we hear about the company's sustainability goals, how important its R&D centre is to the company and hear more about Sisecam's investment in a glass packaging facility in Hungary.

Judging from Sisecam’s production output, do you think the trend for glass is increasing post-Covid?

In the circumstances of the pandemic in 2020, despite the overall challenging situations, we managed to achieve a lucrative year. Increased awareness of health and hygiene during the pandemic accelerated the demand for glass globally.

Opportunities continue in the glass packaging business, where the epidemic-related downside risks on the demand side are relatively limited as it is a food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industry supplier for 2021.

The flat glass industry was affected adversely by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. However, in the upcoming months, there has been a rapid growth in the housing renovation market, and with the pent-up demand; the flat glass demand started to increase. We also see the recovery of flat glass consumption in Turkey, Europe and other regions we operate.

Despite the pandemic, we continued our investments with an amount of approximately 1.9 Billion TL (US$225 million) in 2020. Our main investments in this time frame are mentioned below.

We turned our Polatlı facility into Europe’s largest flat glass base with the eighth furnace we ignited in Turkey in October with an investment of approximately US $140 million.

Following the Polatlı facility, in March 2021, we ignited our TR6 furnace upon the completion of its cold repair process, in our Yenişehir flat glass production facility.

With the completion of mega jumbo production investment in Yenişehir, Şişecam became one of the few producers in the world that produces flat glass up to 16 metres.

Şişecam will continue to create value by actively using its two million tonnes of flat glass production capacity in Turkey, upon the completion of our fifth flat glass furnace’s cold repair process in the last quarter of 2021 in our Yenişehir facility.

Last year, we also completed the renovation and modernisation investment of our Şişecam South Italy facility, which is our second flat glass investment in Italy.

As the largest flat glass producer (in terms of installed capacity including Turkey) in Europe, we aim to make Şişecam South Italy, our second flat glass production facility in Italy and our third flat glass production facility in the EU, strategically beneficial in terms of our flat glass activities in Europe.

Şişecam will establish its first glass packaging facility in Europe with two furnaces in Kaposvár, Hungary.

As mentioned before, we are also planning to make two new float line investments in Turkey, which will increase our production capacity in the country by 30%, to 2.6 million tonnes by the end of 2023.

Can you describe some of Şisecam’s sustainability initiatives within its manufacturing facilities?

Şişecam takes the social, environmental and economic pillars of sustainability into account in all its operations to bring an equitable, viable and bearable future for the next generations. For sustainable and profitable growth, we give a significant attention to utilise our resources with utmost efficiency. We continue our operations with the aim of reaching Green House Gas reduction target as part of our sustainability strategy.

As a global party and a supporter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, Şişecam initiated its five-year corporate sustainability strategy under the title “Care for Next” in 2017.

We are now in the process of building our 2022-2030-sustainability strategy.

As a result of the efforts made in 2020, we took important steps forward in terms of sustainability, including:

  • We saved 263.028 GJ of energy and prevented 103,471 tonnes greenhouse gas emissions in 2020.
  • We ensured that 55% of the product packaging materials that we released were collected from the market and recovered. We have increased our local supply ratio by reaching to 83% in raw material supplying from the local markets.
  • As part of our Sustainability Strategy, we have transitioned to lower-NOx combustion systems at nine glass furnaces as of 2020.
  • Within the scope of our goal to reduce NOx emission values from glass furnaces we have implemented such systems in 47 of 49 furnaces.
  • As part of our commitment to design glass packaging products, lightweight glass packaging solutions that can be produced with less raw materials and less energy are produced. By implementing a design change, 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions has been achieved only via single bottle type.

Can you briefly explain what initiatives Sisecam’s R&D facilities are focusing on and how important they are to the company?

Şişecam has dedicated its Research and Development efforts and operations to developing highly innovative, environment. friendly, competitive products and production technologies.

Our research and development centre, where 164 scientists work together in 29 well-equipped expert laboratories, focus on developing new glass compositions, new glass coatings, new processes, formulations, designs and melting technologies to add value to the comforts and aesthetics of life through innovation by pushing the boundaries of glass science and technology.

In recent years, we have invested in magnetron sputtering coating technologies and the theoretical production capacity has been increased five times in the last eight years. Thus, we increased the variety of our heat and solar control products within the scope of energy-saving and environmental protection.

In addition, we have solid targets for thin and lightweight glass solutions in the near future for automotive applications and with this focus, we started to develop glass prototypes by using thin glasses which are strengthened by chemical tempering technology.

Additionally, projects undertaken to develop glass systems offering resistance to different types of attacks, such as ballistic attacks or explosions, for use in security and safety applications continue at full pace.

In the field of glassware sector, beyond the standard decoration, functional coatings are also developed and widely used. Developed by Şişecam’s R&D center, thermochromic coatings that change color with temperature and photochromic coatings that change color in daylight are innovative coatings developed for this sector.

As mentioned before, in 2020 we implemented V-Block Technology that prevents the growth of microorganisms on glass surfaces being pioneer with our 45 years of investments.

How important will the investment in a glass packaging facility in Hungary be to Şisecam?

Şişecam will establish its first glass packaging facility in Europe with two furnaces in Kaposvár, Hungary.

The greenfield glass packaging facility with an investment of €220 million, will have an annual net production capacity of 330,000 tonnes, and is expected to start its operations in 2023 and reach full capacity by 2025.

We have operated in Hungary for eight years with our encapsulated glass facility.

Şişecam is a strong player and has had a positive track record in the Hungarian market. Our new investment offers attractive opportunities and advantages to support our growth in the European glass packaging market.

Any finishing comments about your new role as the CEO of Şişecam?

GE: I have been a member of the Şişecam Family since 2013 and served as the CFO for the last seven years, until mid 2021.

I have always been honored to be a part of such a strong and influential industrial organization, which has transformed first into a regional and then a global power over its 85-year history.

Şişecam will move forward into the future to achieve its ambitious goals with the bold decisions and devotion of each and every Şişecam employee and I am deeply honored to be leading this growth journey.