British Glass member Encirc opened the world’s biggest container glass furnace in Cheshire last week. While the £40m investment delivers exciting new developments in glass manufacturing – Nick Kirk saw the same old reaction of many VIPs at the opening. He explains why it’s vital to keep on showing policy makers the reality of modern glass manufacturing.
“It was a privilege to be there as the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officially opened Encirc’s record-breaking new furnace. And to talk with him, and other VIPs, as we toured the facility – seeing in action how the integration of digital technology, robotics and advanced manufacturing is driving up productivity and sustainability.
“The Secretary of State was not alone in being surprised just how much technology goes into making an everyday glass container – the sort of thing we all handle tens of times each day without a thought.
“Of course glass has been preserving, weather proofing and protecting for centuries – it’s hardly surprising that those outside the industry assume there’s nothing new to see here.
“But glass making is always improving. For example, did you know that glass bottles are around 30% lighter than they were 20 years ago and glass manufacturing has demonstrated it can reduce its carbon emissions while increasing production?
“The danger is that familiarity can breed complacency when it comes to making policy. Time and again, when my colleagues and I invite civil servants, local authority regulators and politicians to visit a glass plant, it’s their first time and they’re surprised by what they see: even those who have a specific responsibility to shape policy detail that will directly affect this £1.3billion industry and its 6,650 direct jobs.
“We and our members ensure that policy makers do have the chance to visit glass manufacturing sites to appreciate the potential impact of regulations and policies on health and safety, energy, taxation, environmental regulation, waste, recycling and so on.
“Glass capability is a vital economic and technological asset with a key role to play in the modern manufacturing economy. Much of twenty-first century life depends on products that use glass – from 100% recyclable packaging and energy-efficient glazing to optical technologies that enable anything from night vision to internet communication.
“In the current changeable political and economic climate, taking policy makers to a member’s site is a more or less monthly occurrence for the British Glass team. But we keep on doing it for a good reason – glass manufacturing is always innovating and glass is central to a safe and sustainable future.”
Read more about the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officially opening Encirc’s record-breaking new furnace.
Encirc is a market leader in glass container design, manufacturing, bottling and logistics solutions for the UK and Irish food and beverages industries.
Dr Nick Kirk is British Glass Technical Director. He provides leadership across a range of services the glass industry’s full supply chain. Recently he has lead work with the UK government and industry to develop the glass sector’s decarbonisation action plan and secure commitment to it from British Glass members.