UK glass container manufacturer, Encirc and industry research and technology organisation, Glass Futures, are partnering to create what should be the world’s most sustainable glass bottle.

In Quarter 1 2021, Encirc’s Derrylin plant in Northern Ireland will use bio-fuel on one of its furnaces, hoping to pave the way for an industry-wide reduction in carbon emissions.

Bio-fuel is a renewable and much more sustainable fuel source than those traditionally used by the glass sector, and is thought to be able to reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% when compared to fossil fuels.

Alongside this trial, Encirc will be use up to 96% recycled glass to create the new bottles, further reducing the carbon footprint of its products.

The UK trial will be the world’s first and the results will feed into UK Government policy around decarbonisation.

The project forms part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy Innovation Programme, within which Glass Futures is a £7.1m project to help determine the most effective route to switch the glass sector to low carbon fuels.

A key focus for Glass Futures, and the bio-fuel project, is further reducing the sector’s carbon footprint and the impact of the glass manufacturing in the UK, futureproofing an industry directly employing 23,000 people.

Fiacre O’Donnell, Director of Sustainability, at Vidrala, Encirc’s parent company, said. “Bio-fuel is just one part of the decarbonisation puzzle, but an incredibly important and exciting one.

“We’re also looking into the development of hydrogen, and advancements in electric melting to truly discover the future of glass production.

“We’ve already seen a huge level of interest from beverage suppliers in attaining the ultra-low-CO2 containers we’ll be making during the trial, which further suggests how united the industry is our quest for total sustainability.

“Glass is already a wonder material in terms of sustainability, able to be recycled a limitless number of times, without losing any quality. However, as with any manufacturing process, it is still an energy-intensive sector. By working with Glass Futures, we can help pioneer the development of a glass bottle which will truly have no negative impact on the environment.”

Alongside the 30-day trial, Encirc also has aspirations to boost the sustainability of its logistics operations switching out its fuel sources for bio-fuel.

Aston Fuller, General Manager of Glass Futures, said: “Encirc has taken a pragmatic approach and is pushing the innovation boundaries with a full-scale trial of a new alternative fuel. It is great to see the whole supply chain collaborate to explore what is possible within the industry."