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50 years of recycling in France – a success story emerging from O-I Glass’ plant in Reims

O-I Glass, Inc., global supplier of glass packaging, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of glass collection and recycling, launched at its Reims plant in 1974. The success of this initiative is clear to see:

  • More than 80% of glass products are now recycled in France;
  • More than 1.15 million tonnes of recycled glass used by O-I France in 2023;
  • More than 320,000 tonnes of CO2 avoided by O-I France in 2023.

It all began at the O-I plant in Reims, France.  In the aftermath of the first oil crisis, Jean Tournier la Ravoire, then manager of a glassworks in Reims, was looking for ways to save energy. In the mind of this talented engineer, an idea became obvious: to extend to the outside world the glass recycling process already practised in-house. His factory has always recycled broken glass from the production process, because this ‘cullet’ melts at a lower temperature than virgin raw materials, which requires less energy. Jean Tournier la Ravoire now had a vision of a much more extensive and professional glass recycling process. The idea became a reality: he set up his first container to collect glass from the Champagne-Ardenne region on an experimental basis…  Aware that people need to be motivated to change their behaviour, he decided to link the act of recycling closely to a humanitarian cause. In agreement with the French League against Cancer, a percentage of the revenue from the glass collected is donated to the fight against cancer.  The effectiveness of this partnership has never wavered: in 2023, almost €100,000 was donated to the Ligue Contre le Cancer! In 1974, the Reims-based manufacturer’s pilot project was a success that quickly spread across the country. Today, France has a collection rate of over 80%, making it a world leader in glass recycling! With energy costs falling by around 2 to 3% for every 10% of cullet used in the manufacturing process, glass recycling is now a key factor in reducing consumption and CO2 emissions. And it does so in a sustainable way, because glass is a unique packaging material that can be recycled 100% over and over again.

Up to 93% cullet reused in O-I Glass plants Building on this heritage, O-I Glass, which operates the plant that Jean Tournier la Ravoire once ran in Reims, is taking action to improve glass recycling in France and around the world. By 2023, cullet will represent on average more than 60% of the ingredients used to make glass in its nine French plants, with the O-I plant in Wingles (62) setting the standard with a cullet rate of up to 93%. In total, O-I in France used more than 1.15 million tonnes of recycled glass in 2023, saving some 322,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to the emissions from heating 42,000 homes in one year.

To go even further, on a global scale, O-I :

  • relies on supply solutions that enable the use of recyclable materials;
  • is constantly seeking new technological and organisational partnerships;
  • works with associations such as the Fédération Française des Industries du Verre, the European Glass Packaging Federation and the Glass Packaging Institute in the United States;
  • participates actively in industry associations that promote glass recycling and sustainability.

According to Walter Ferrer, Managing Director of O-I Glass for South-West Europe, “Optimising the benefits of glass recycling requires a supply chain made up of committed and motivated players. Together, we have a tremendous opportunity to ensure that glass achieves its full sustainability potential by maintaining the value chain. By taking advantage of glass’s infinite recyclability, we can increase recycled content, increase demand for end-of-life packaging, preserve natural resources while reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions. All in all, we are simultaneously acting on the decarbonisation and circularity of our processes.

To mark 50 years of glass recycling in France, O-I France continues to actively support the Ligue Contre le Cancer, a gesture that reminds us how it all began.

Everything you need to know about glass recycling :

About O-I Glass

At O-I Glass, Inc. (NYSE: OI), we love glass and we’re proud to be one of the leading producers of glass bottles and jars around the globe. Glass is not only beautiful, it’s also pure, healthy, and completely recyclable, making it the most sustainable rigid packaging material. Headquartered in Perrysburg, Ohio (USA), O-I is the preferred partner for many of the world’s leading food and beverage brands. We innovate in line with customers’ needs to create iconic packaging that builds brands around the world. Led by our diverse team of approximately 23,000 people across 68 plants in 19 countries, O-I achieved revenues of $7.1 billion in 2023.  Learn more about us:  o-i.comFacebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn


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