Sustainability in Action

Acting on Our Commitment to Responsible Water Resource Management

 | Global Director of Environmental Affairs, O-I Glass

At O-I, responsible water resource management is embedded in our daily practices. From our processes to our people, we are committed to conserving and reducing our water consumption by 25% in our high and extremely high-water scarcity markets by 2030. 

We understand the vital role that water plays in our operations and recognize the importance of conserving this precious resource for future generations. 

Through ongoing initiatives and projects such as water recirculation, treatment and reuse, process optimization, and investment in innovative technologies, we are committed to minimizing our water footprint while maintaining the highest standards of environmental and product stewardship. Our dedication to sustainable practices extends beyond compliance to embody a genuine ethos of care and responsibility for our world. 

As Global Director of Environmental Affairs, I am keenly aware that we recognize the interconnectedness of water security and climate change, and we are actively working to reduce our carbon footprint, mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.  

Understanding the Challenge for Water and Implementing Water Recycling, Reuse 

Glass manufacturing typically involves three primary processes: batch preparation, melting, and forming. Each involves using water for cooling, cleaning, and operational purposes. Wastewater generated during these processes requires treatment and adequate disposal, reuse, or discharge practices. 

Infographic showing how O-I makes glass packaging

One of the most effective strategies for responsible water management in our operations is the implementation of water recycling and reuse systems.  

By safely treating wastewater from production processes, we can recycle it back into our operations, significantly reducing freshwater intake and minimizing discharge volumes. We employ filtration and purification technologies, like reverse osmosis and membrane bioreactors to enable the removal of contaminants, ensuring that recycled water meets quality and compliance requirements for reuse or discharge. 

Optimizing the Glass Manufacturing Process 

Optimizing our processes is another crucial aspect of our water conservation efforts. Through continuous monitoring and improvement initiatives, O-I identifies inefficiencies and implements measures to minimize water usage without compromising product quality or operational integrity.  

We are working to fine-tune our equipment settings, optimize cooling systems, and adopt water-saving practices at nearly every stage of our bottle making process.  

By 2026, we intend for all O-I plants to complete a water balance study to inform us of process opportunities for water reduction and awareness. In addition, as part of our 25% water consumption sustainability goal, we have defined a water meter installation roadmap to ensure adequate measurement and thus reduction of water consumption at each of our facilities’ points of production.  

Creating Collaborative Water Management Partnerships 

Collaboration with stakeholders across the supply chain is essential for driving meaningful change in water resource management. We actively engage with our suppliers and encourage customers to return and recycle glass bottles to help minimize our overall environmental footprint. We pride ourselves at establishing partnerships with local communities, governments, and environmental organizations to facilitate knowledge sharing and collective action towards water conservation goals, in the communities we serve. 

Investing in Water Management Technologies 

We are committed to investing in research and development of innovative technologies, the key to advancing our sustainable water management. From water-saving equipment upgrades to the development of alternative materials and processes in MAGMA, our continuous innovation and quality water management aid in reducing water consumption, minimizing waste generation, and enhancing our overall environmental performance. We act to foster a culture of innovation and embrace emerging solutions, to stay ahead of regulatory requirements and market demands.  

In recent years, our investment in water innovation and technology has led to millions of dollars in capital investment granted for over 100 global projects. 

At our Jaroslaw, Poland plant, we invested in oil water separator technology, allowing us the capability to reduce waste to water generated, by 400 tons. And in Bari, Italy,  stormwater recovery equipment was installed with a targeted stormwater recovery of 1,000,000 liters just one year after installation.  

O-I’s San Polo, Italy plant recently implemented water reduction measures including a closed-loop water system and modern new sinks. 


Water Management is an Obligation 

For O-I, water resource management is not just a corporate responsibility, but a collective obligation to safeguard our world for future generations. By adopting sustainable practices, embracing innovation, and fostering collaboration, we can play a pivotal role in preserving precious water resources while ensuring the long-term viability of our business and communities.  

Our journey of responsible water resource management in glass bottle manufacturing requires commitment, innovation, and collaboration. We believe that together, we can turn the tide for global water management, leaving a legacy of stewardship and resilience for generations to come. 

Rebecca Schilling
Global Director of Environmental Affairs, O-I Glass
Whether she’s enjoying the outdoors, or exploring the remote corners of the globe, Rebecca Schilling believes that industry holds the key to healthy and thriving communities and environments.
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