Glass manufacturing professionals attended a sustainability debate about the future of glassmaking.

About 45 industry experts from glass manufacturers, technology suppliers and associations took part in the hour-long debate within the 25th International Congress on Glass held in Boston, USA.

The debate was organised by the GlassTrend group, which aims to improve the competitive strength of the entire glass industry. The debate was chaired by GlassTrend chairman AnneJans Faber and its advisory member Oscar Verheijen.

Rather than a traditional panel discussion, each attendee was invited to sit in a particular group, discuss a slightly provocative subject, and at the end, after consideration of both sets of arguments, did participants give their personal opinion with a green (pro) or red (con) card.

Mr Faber said: “The main goal of this debate was to collect valid arguments pro and con the statements, with an open mind, rather than pushing personal opinions upon other participants.”

He added: “As organisers of this first GlassTrend debate, we received many positive reactions on this debate format and we will surely repeat this type of interactive session in future GlassTrend events.”


The debate discussed three subjects and attendees were split into three groups: the pros, the cons and the neutral observers.

For each subject, each group were asked to give either the for or against argument to each topic while the neutral observers watched the proceedings.

After each 20-minute debate attendees then switched position to ensure everyone took part in proceedings. Attendees then voted at the end of each debate to see if they agreed or disagreed with the statement.

The first topic was: A CO2 tax of at least $50/tonne of CO2 is required to stimulate the glass industry to invest in CO2 reducing technologies (to reach a 50% reduction by 2030).

Those in the Pro camp suggested this would support a Return on Investment (ROI) and would encourage companies towards more renewable energy, thus helping save the planet.

But the cons side said glass was already suffering economically and that this tax would squeeze limited resources.

They suggested that the tax could become lost in government bureaucracy and administration rather than being used efficiently in the glass industry.

The vote saw 23 people vote for the Pro side and 15 for the Con side.

The second statement discussed was: In 20 years, all glass furnaces will be operated with more than 80% of the energy provided by hydrogen combustion.

The statement sparked a lively debate with the Pros team stating that hydrogen storage is effective and that the natural gas infrastructure system could be used for hydrogen.

But the Cons suggested that the 80% figure was too much and that 30% combustion was more realistic. They also questioned the safety aspect of storing and transporting hydrogen.

The final ‘score’ for this discussion was Con 27 and pro 11.

The final debate was In 20 years the cullet percentage for flint, container, flat, fibre and tableware will exceed 80% (similar to coloured container glass at the moment.)

The cons suggested this would be fine from a cost perspective and means less use of natural resources, mining and transport.

But the con side said that high quality cullet would not be available and that alternative raw materials would also reduce CO2.

The final score for this debate was pro 5 and con 33.