Glass container manufacturer Encirc has completed trials of rail transport of finished bottles using a railhead at its Elton, UK production site.

The manufacturer’s Elton railhead is currently used to deliver raw materials and recycled glass used in the production process.

However, Encirc has earmarked it in its plans to create an ultra-sustainable transport network for glass across the UK.

Adrian Curry, Managing Director of Encirc, said: “A tonne of freight transported by rail produces 76% fewer carbon emissions compared with road haulage, so developing our rail capacity across the UK will enable us to vastly reduce our own carbon footprint and that of our partners.”[1]

Encirc has conducted three trials over the last two years, providing a framework for how the rail transport network will work in practice.

Supported by WH Malcolm, MDS Transmodal and Cheshire West Council, the trials began in 2022 with the delivery of spirit bottles to a customer in Scotland and have most recently continued with the transport of bottles to the company’s filling site, ‘The Park’, in Bristol.

Curry continued: “The rail network can have a transformative impact on the carbon footprint of our supply chain, and that has a direct effect on those of our partners.

Each load of bottles and jars delivered by train is the equivalent to taking 66 lorries off the UK’s roads, an already sizeable reduction which we intend to scale up in the long term, with 70% of bottles produced at the Cheshire site eventually leaving by rail.

“Introducing rail to the supply chain will reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle across its full lifecycle, and therefore the emissions it passes onto the consumer.”

While Encirc recognises that not all of its customers will have capacity to receive deliveries by train, it is making strides towards intermodal transport where at least part of the journey is undertaken by rail rather than relying on road haulage exclusively.