O-I inaugurated the third furnace at its Gironcourt-sur-Vraine plant in France yesterday (Thursday August 27).

The €60 million investment will ensure the company can produce 1.9 billion glass beer bottles a year. It is the largest investment made by the company in Europe in 20 years.

This new furnace is the culmination of 20 months of work that involved more than 340 people. A total of 60 people were hired to work at the site.

They have spent six months being trained by O-I glass master makers to become glass experts themselves and produce this emblematic and sustainable packaging

"It's a great source of pride to see the first flames light up this furnace, particularly in the challenging environment in which we find ourselves," said Robert Gachot, Managing Director South-West Europe.

"We are deeply committed to the region, our employees, customers and consumers of sustainable and recyclable packaging, thanks to the engagement and resilience of our teams."

The furnace was lit by its two 'Godparents' (pictured above): One is the site EHS coordinator, Marie-Christine Hoffman, who is deeply committed to ensure everyone’s safety. The other is the area’s Prefect, whose support was instrumental to the success of the project.

The plant transforms local raw materials, of which 88% is glass cullet, recycled 4km away from the factory. Once produced, 75% of the bottles are delivered to customers by rail.

The lighting ceremony was attended by local dignitaries and senior O-I executives including Jean-Pierre François, European Director of O-I, and Mr Gachot.