Vetropack Group has produced the world's first returnable bottles made of thermally tempered lightweight glass.

With its Echovai solution, Vetropack has created bottles which are more durable, lightweight and have reduced CO2 emissions.

The lightweight glass bottle is up to 30% less weight than a standard returnable bottle and is more resistant to abrasion, which results in higher circulation rates.

CO2 emissions per bottle have also fallen to a quarter of the normal 0.33-litre returnable bottle.

The glass containers are still produced exclusively at the plant in Pöchlarn, Austria.

It took approximately ten years of development work at the Vetropack Innovation Centre for Echovai to become reality.

In phase one, over the last three years, millions of bottles have been successfully sold and refilled by pilot customer Mohrenbrauerei.

Extensive tests by the brewery have also confirmed the extended life span and durability of bottles.

In phase two, select new projects will show how and which other Vetropack plants will need to be made ready for Echovai production - the requirement for meeting the demand for Echovai bottles across Europe.

Daniel Egger, Head of Innovation at Vetropack, said: "We expect this demand to grow very quickly. Especially since the performance of Echovai in our pilot project is outstanding."

Phase 3 will see the possibility of licensing technology and know-how to third parties to allow for a wider market introduction.