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Zero Waste

Reduce the amount of natural resources used, reduce the generation of waste by reuse, and recycling more as we drive towards a “Zero Waste” organization.

Our Raw Materials & Waste Vision

We are committed to reducing the natural resources we use and the waste we generate. O-I continues to design out waste by increasing recycled content in our products, making glass production a circular process. The O-I sustainable waste management initiative aims to reduce the amount of natural resources used, eliminate the generation of waste, and increase recycling as we drive towards being a “Zero Waste” organization. 

Globally, our glass products currently contain an average of 38% cullet by tons packed. Every 10% of recycled glass used in production leads to a 5% reduction in carbon emissions and a 3% reduction in energy use.

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Managing and Eliminating Waste Generation
Proper management of waste reduces health risks, improves safety, reduces environmental impact, improves our sustainability initiatives, and reduces costs. Our global waste goal is driven by following the O-I Waste Management Fundamental, which establishes global measurements, benchmarks best-in-class practices, promotes using less and recycling more. The EHS Center of Excellence Team provides guidance on waste and conducts global audits on the waste management process. Country Group Teams ensure O-I plants have implemented a waste management process and hold them accountable for an effective program.
The Packaging of Packaging – Wood
Together with our customers, we understand that wood is a precious and limited resource. Therefore, we treat wooden pallets used for our goods as returnable packaging. All across the world we either use our own pool or participate in national or industrial pallet pooling systems. Through partnerships with customers, we have been able to repurpose and reuse pallets in small closed-loop systems to reduce scrap and minimize new wood pallet purchases. In 2020 only 1 in every 16 pallets was new in Europe, and in North America, only 1 in every 10 wood pallets purchased was new.
The Packaging of Packaging – Paper
For cardboard packaging, we follow two parallel paths in close cooperation with our customers. In Europe, we limit consumption of cardboard packaging and mainly use products made from recycled paper fibers. Our European cardboard composition is 71% recycled paper. In the Americas, we use premium quality cardboard packaging, giving customers the opportunity to reclaim it, which extends the product life, reduces waste, and minimizes the environmental impact. Fiberboard tier sheets have also reused in the Americas, over a quarter-million sheets to date.
The Packaging of Packaging – Plastic Film
To deliver our products to customers, we use film packaging to assure products are clean and safe when it reaches customer warehouses. Being conscious about the environment, we have run several development projects to improve this area. The two main pillars are: substantial plastic film downgauging (reducing thickness and thus the amount of plastic that we use and provide to the market) and developing films with recycled content (mainly in Europe).
Better Use of Raw Materials
In order to improve O-I’s use of raw materials and reduce waste, in 2020 we introduced four initiatives: managing glass consumption, reducing raw materials inventory, reducing raw materials and logistics cost, and minimizing raw materials waste. Aiming to create a zero-waste process, any reusable internal cullet, or any reusable glass that does not make it into the final product, is recycled back into the furnace. O-I is working to address even the smallest wastes, glass fines (small particulates), to improve utilization.
Increasing Cullet Rate – Circular Economy
Efficient supplier-client coordination, as well as customers’ focus on the circular economy, helps to drive cullet availability. This leads to successes like those in the Andean region where the recovery of returnable containers represents about 30% of our glass collection. With the collaboration of selected suppliers, we are investing our time, effort, and capital on enhancing the treatment of the cullet to enable a higher usage in our furnaces. We recycle returns from customers including obsolete containers or end-of-life returnable containers. In addition to container glass, we are developing recycling of industrial cullet from flat glass (buildings and automotive) and end-of-life-solar panels and auto windshields.
Increasing Cullet Rate – Promoting Recycling
We participate in private organizations and associations that seek to bring the manufacturing industry together to promote glass, recycling, and secure the cullet pipeline. Such organizations include: FEVE, GPI, GRC, ABIVIDRIO, CEMPRE. To learn more about how O-I is working collaboratively to promote glass recycling and collection view our Recycling goal page.

Every year O-I prevents more than five million tons of glass from going to landfills by keeping it in the circular economy making us a net negative contributor to landfills.

JIM NORDMEYER (He/Him)
VP, GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY