Owens-Illinois, Inc. (NYSE: OI), the world's largest manufacturer of glass packaging, today announced an aggressive plan to significantly reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions across its worldwide operations during the next decade.
O-I recently conducted a complete life cycle assessment of the environmental impact of glass containers, which will serve as a crucial baseline for tracking the company's progress. The assessment, which included data comparing glass with aluminum and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET), covered every aspect of the lifecycle of glass - from raw material extraction to transportation to recycling, reuse or disposal.
With 2007 as a baseline, O-I intends to achieve the following by 2017:
- Cut its global energy consumption by 50 percent
- Reduce carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions by 65 percent
- Nearly double its use of recycled glass so that a global average of 60 percent of each O-I container is recycled material
- Eliminate workplace accidents
"Our recent life cycle assessment showed that glass already has a smaller carbon footprint than other packaging materials. But, we see room for additional improvement in the carbon footprint of glass and our company as the world's leading maker of glass packaging," said O-I Chief Executive Officer Al Stroucken. "While our goals are extremely aggressive, we are confident that they are achievable and that they will have a significant and positive impact on the environment. Our goal is to be the world's most sustainable glass packaging maker."
O-I already has taken a number of steps to meet these goals, including reducing some bottle weights by nearly 30 percent, cutting energy usage by 8 percent in the past three years and launching safety education programs throughout the company.
Achieving the company's recycling goals may require addressing fundamental challenges in the way recycling systems currently function. "Recycling systems work well in certain parts of the world. Europe has the most sophisticated and successful programs, but in the United States and other countries, a significant amount of glass slated for recycling actually ends up in landfills," said Jay Scripter, O-I vice president of sustainability. "We want to use that glass to make new glass containers. O-I has an opportunity to be a leader on this issue and make a significant impact."
Glass is the only packaging material that can be recycled an infinite number of times. Using recycled glass directly reduces the amount of energy required to process raw materials. Every 10 percent of recycled glass used in production cuts carbon emissions by 5 percent and saves 3 percent in energy use. Currently, the average recycled content in O-I bottles is an industry-leading 36 percent.
To ensure successful implementation of its sustainability initiatives, O-I has appointed a senior-level steering committee, led by CEO Al Stroucken, and created dedicated action teams to lead the efforts, oversee progress and ensure success. The company intends to issue reports on its progress in achieving these sustainability goals in the future.