Pilkington invests in sustainable glassmaking

Leaders of Pilkington UK have committed to making a multi-million-pound investment that will hopefully save 15,000 tonnes of carbon emissions each year while securing the future of rolled glass manufacturing in the UK. The major investment focuses on the firm’s Greengate glassmaking furnace, which the Pilkington team plans to upgrade to accommodate the continued production of flat glass while delivering the additional output required from relocating its Watson Street operations (the business’ Watson Street furnace is reaching the end of its life, so the team plans to close the site.) Pilkington UK is part of the NSG Group.

Producing all glass out of an upgraded furnace, rather than running two, is projected to save carbon emissions that are equivalent to taking 8,800 cars off the road each year. This is based on a carbon saving of 15,000 tonnes of CO2 (the average CO2 emissions per car per year in the UK is 1.7mn grams, according to NimbleFins.)

The upgrade work is scheduled to begin this August, and the line is due to be up and running by next August. The Watson Street site is to remain open until August 2024, and no impact is expected with regard to the availability of glass while the work takes place. A £3.7m grant from the government’s Industrial Energy Transformation Fund, which aims to help cover the costs of industrial energy efficiency and decarbonisation projects in the UK, has helped to secure this project.

“This project represents one of the single biggest investments we’ve made in our UK manufacturing facilities in decades,” said Neil Syder, managing director of Pilkington UK. “It will ultimately secure the future of rolled glass manufacturing in the UK.

“Working out of one furnace will enable us to make a permanent and significant saving in CO2 emissions. It’s a radical shift in the way we operate but we know that if we are to achieve our net-zero ambitions, we need to make change across all areas of our business.

“The Watson Street site has been operating since the 1800s and forms a key piece of our history. Throughout the years, the site has been instrumental in the development of different products, paving the way for a rich history of innovation in glass solutions. Yet this move marks a new chapter in our story that allows us to embrace more sustainable ways of making glass and continue to drive forward our vision for change, in partnership with the industry.”

Last year, the Science Based Targets initiative certified the NSG Group’s aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030, compared to 2018 levels. This certification for the glassmaking business forms the basis of the the group’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Pilkington glassmaking