Glass manufacturing to evolve amid burgeoning industrial demand for sustainable packaging and engineering materials

glass manufacturing market

Omnipresence of glass in the modern economy and the growing concerns regarding industrial sustainability will push glass manufacturing considerably over the coming years.

Glass has been an integral part of the industrial ecosystem for generations, as a key material used by itself or in combination with other materials for various high-performance applications; a trend that has proved to be immensely beneficial for the glass manufacturing market over the years.

The origins of glass production can be traced back as far as 3500 BC when glass was considered the first artificially produced material for use in jewelry or vessel-making in major civilizations like Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Since then, the process has undergone numerous evolutions as the application scope of glass broadened, eventually coming to be known as the high-tech industrial process of the modern industry.

Glass manufacturing processes, despite some common characteristics, vary according to the type of glass being produced, from flat glass to molded glass to specialty glass, depending on the unique requirements of each product.

Given the ubiquity of glass as an engineering material, manufacturers of glass products are ramping up their investments in extensive R&D activities to devise new glass production methods, facilitate new product development, and enhance the efficiency of existing production approaches.

Based on estimates from Global Market Insights Inc., the glass manufacturing industry is poised to cross USD 329.4 billion by 2027.

Expansion of production facilities to address the growing demand for glass-based packaging across the industrial spectrum

As was the case with most major sectors in the global economy, the packaging industry faced several hindrances because of the novel coronavirus pandemic which emerged in early 2020.

Overall, however, the industry has started to make considerable progress in terms of recovery, supported by the widespread changes in consumption patterns during the lockdown phases.

These changes are also reflected in the way the packaging sector has evolved over the course of the pandemic.

Glass-based packaging, in particular, regained massive popularity during the pandemic. Various factors are influencing changes in the way glass is produced for packaging applications.

These range from the demand for glass bottles growing in the food & beverage and cosmetics sectors to massive innovations in glass vials for pharmaceutical and medical packaging.

According to Global Market Insights Inc., the glass manufacturing market is set to depict a 4.1% CAGR through 2027.

The ever-increasing interest in glass packaging from various industrial domains is also encouraging manufacturers of glass products to undertake strategic measures to accommodate the demand for glass-based packaging.

To that end, in March 2022, Şişecam, the only international firm to operate in all core glass production areas, including glass packaging, glass fiber, glassware, and flat glass, broke ground on a  new USD 2.6 million (EUR 255 million) greenfield glass packaging plant in Hungary.

As the company’s first glass packaging production site in Europe, the facility was part of the firm’s efforts to bring quality glass packaging solutions to European markets, with an annual capacity of over 330,000 tons.

Designed to address the varying glass packaging demands from both Hungarian and other foreign markets, across various industrial verticals through the development of high-quality value-added glass packaging products, the new facility represents a strong step ahead for the glass manufacturing industry in the region and beyond.  

Key industry players edge toward sustainable glass manufacturing via strategic collaborations

Among the many benefits offered by glass as an engineering material, perhaps the most prevalent in the current era is its sustainability, which has become a major concern for manufacturing entities across the globe in their mission to combat climate change.

Since glass products are nearly 100% recyclable, they also play a prominent role in the circular economy; however, the process required for creating these products requires a change in order to become more sustainable and energy efficient.

Traditional glass manufacturing processes consume massive amounts of energy and require high temperatures, which can present various environmental as well as economic challenges for the glass industries in the long run.

With eco-responsibility becoming the need of the hour, major manufacturers of glass products are starting to focus on finding and implementing sustainable glass manufacturing methods, in order to boost the energy efficiency of the process and in turn, mitigate the environmental impact of the industry.

For instance, in November 2021, glass producer Bormioli Pharma announced its decision to join Glass Futures, a not-for-profit firm based in the UK operating to minimize the environmental implications of conventional glass production methods.

The project, which involves collaborative efforts from companies, universities, and research organizations, was aimed at examining new low-emission industrial processes and technologies in the glass manufacturing business landscape.

This included research into various sustainable glass manufacturing approaches, through the use of alternative sources, regular updates to technological platforms, and the use of reusable glass in manufacturing.

The 10-year agreement inked between Bormioli Pharma and Glass Futures would allow the pharma glass manufacturer to access various glass production technologies to strengthen its position in the glass manufacturing industry, whilst minimizing its environmental impact.

As an unlimited material with ever-growing application scope, glass, used by itself or in combination with other materials, has witnessed tremendous breakthroughs over the years.

Having shaped the world in more ways than any other engineering material, glass manufacturing has rapidly become a lucrative investment opportunity for manufacturers, further strengthening the position of glass as an industry-defining material in the modern era.

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