More than 600 people registered to attend a conference focused on glass and a sustainable future.

Attendees at Sisecam’s 35th annual conference, titled, Glass in the Sustainable Future: The Pandemic and new Eco System included university students, academics, Sisecam employees as well as industry representatives.

The conference took place on Monday and has been held every year since 1985. This year it was hosted online as a result of travel restrictions caused by the pandemic.

It included 15 presentations as well as two keynote deliveries from a variety of glass industry stakeholders.

The keynote presentations were delivered by Sisecam’s Chief Strategy Officer, Ozelm Vergon, who spoke about the effects of the pandemic on the glass industry, and Stuart Hakes, Chief Executive Officer of FIC UK, who discussed How Glass Furnaces would look in a Decarbonised Future.

In a welcome speech Sisecam’s CEO Prof Dr Ahmet Kirman said the purpose of the event was to bring people together, share ideas and initiate discussions.

“I wish we could come together and have face to face discussions as we have in the past but I am happy to see so many friends of glass join us online today to show how much we need to interact and share ideas in order to advance glass and industry.

"Thank you very much for joining us today.”

He added: “Glass is one of the most fascinating materials of our time. It plays a central role not only in improving the quality of our lives but also facilitating many scientific and technological developments with its unbeatable qualities such as inertness, transparency, availability and low cost.”

Opening the first session, keynote speaker Ozlem Vergon discussed mega trends and the many forces that shape the formation of generations.

Mega trends affect lifestyles, industry and work life. For example Generation X was known for computers, Generation Y for being online, Generation Z for digital and Generation Alpha – those born since 2013 - will be the virtual generation.

Companies will need to understand the generations because any technological developments and innovations of today will be the products of the coming generations.

Unexpected drivers can also stimulate or disrupt mega trends.

While Covid-19 has disrupted many sectors and increased uncertainty, it has also accelerated some existing trends, such as the increase of digitalisation, as well as our awareness of sustainability.

Many business and organisations have already changed their focus in regards to sustainability.

They are more opportunity focused and transparent and explain what they are doing from a sustainability viewpoint. They often want to collaborate with long term partners in their effort to be force for good.

In addition the circular economy is on the rise, and glass fits nicely into this with its ‘green’ attributes and overall contribution to it.

In future glass will be well placed to meet both the needs of a more circular economy as well as digitalisation requirements.

“Glass will always here and will provide solutions for sustainability, in health and in digitalisation because it is smart, durable, and eco- friendly,” she said.

Applications such as smart mirrors, smart houses, smart contact glass in virtual experiences, smart flat glass and in solar will ensure glass plays a part in a connected world.