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3 minute read - 14th December 2022

Encirc to invest in new hydrogen-powered furnace

Glass bottle manufacturer and filler Encirc has partnered with alcoholic drinks producer Diageo to create the world’s first net zero glass bottles at scale by 2030.

Encirc plans to build a new furnace at its Elton plant in Cheshire, which will reduce carbon emissions by 90%, with an energy mix of green electricity and low carbon hydrogen. It is expected that carbon capture technology will capture the remaining carbon emissions by 2030. The furnace will be powered by zero carbon electricity and low carbon hydrogen from the Vertex (HyNet) plant in Cheshire.

Encirc says it plans to be fully operational by 2027 and will produce up to 200 million net zero bottles of Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Gordon’s and Tanqueray annually by 2030.

Encirc is to invest in a new hydrogen-powered furnace – it will reduce carbon emissions by 90% and produce up to 200 million net zero bottles per year / Picture: Encirc

In 2021, Encirc, in collaboration with glass industry partners Glass Futures, trialled one of its furnaces at its Northern Ireland plant on sustainable biofuels with brands including Diageo’s Black & White bottles, using 100% recycled glass to create the most sustainable bottles ever produced. The bottles had a carbon footprint of up to 90% lower than a standard glass bottle.

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Decarbonising glass packaging will be a key part of the UK government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050. The hydrogen used to power the new furnace will come from Vertex Hydrogen, a partner of the government-backed HyNet North West cluster – the UK’s leading industrial decarbonisation project.

Glass Futures, based in St Helens, is also playing a key role in supporting the glass industry’s decarbonisation and is a key partner for Encirc. It will be instrumental in trialling sustainable fuels on furnaces and developing the future furnace technology required to support Encirc and the wider glass industry in its goals.

Powered by zero carbon electricity and low carbon hydrogen, Encirc expects the new furnace to be fully operational by 2027 / Picture: Encirc

Adrian Curry, managing director of Encirc, said: “This will be a major step in our goal of producing net zero glass by 2030. With support from the government and key partners, Encirc and Diageo believe it will be possible to have this first of its kind furnace up and running at the beginning of 2027. Glass is an incredible material being infinitely recyclable and chemically inert. It has been around since 3500 BC and has never been produced in this way. This is about protecting glass as a material by addressing the carbon challenge. The work we and Glass Futures undertake will be shared with the UK glass industry to ensure glass remains as the packing of choice for many thousands more years.”

Ewan Andrew, president of global supply & procurement and chief sustainability officer at Diageo, added: “We are really excited to be a part of this world leading announcement which forms part of our commitment to halve our scope 3 carbon emissions by 2030. All renewable energy options are important to us and we’d like to see government and industry further accelerating the direct supply of green energy as a mainstream option. Ultimately, we look forward to a world where people can enjoy their favourite drinks from zero carbon glass bottles.”

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