Nevertheless, AGC Glass Europe did not wait for this directive to improve its own reuse and recycling of glass packaging. Some years ago steel stillages were developed to store and transport the glass, instead of the traditional wooden crates. These stillages can be reused for years and result in a minimum of packaging waste. When they can no longer be reused they are easily recycled as metal scrap. Special road trucks (inloaders) have also been developed to transport this new glass packaging in a safe and easy way. Other reusable packagings for various types of products have been developed, such as special containers for automotive glass.
In contract negotiations with our suppliers of raw materials and consumables we also stress the importance of reducing the quantity of loose packaging that ultimately turns into waste in our facilities.
Sustainable use of wood in packaging for glass products
Glass shipped in breakbulk is packed in wooden boxes. Today, all of the wood that is used by AGC Belgium, Netherlands, France and Czech Republic comes from PEFC certified wood sources (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes). This ecolabel means that the wood comes from sustainably managed forests.
AGC not only uses sustainable wood sources for packaging, it also strives to reduce the amount of wood used (thereby avoiding waste) by optimising the packaging design. Our wooden flask packaging has been standardised to an optimum size in order to fit both the laminated and the float glass products in the BENEFRA region.
Using containers to ship DLF glass and reduce packaging
In 2010 we started shipping DLF glass in containers using special stillages designed by ourselves, designated D26. These container shipments replace break-bulk shipments using wood packaging. Thanks to these stillages the amount of glass that can be sent by container is up to 24 tonnes without packaging.
An additional environmental advantage of these stillages is that they can be reused. 1.2 m³ of wood is generally used for DLF glass packaging in a container without being further recycled. As thousands of containers are shipped to our customers, this means that when the system is fully rolled out AGC will reduce its wood consumption by many tonnes per year.
The P08 stillage: reduce, reuse and recycle
Typically, the flat glass industry ships the glass to customers on one-way metal stillages. These stillages end up at the construction site; some of them may be returned to local glass makers but otherwise they are dumped. Even if they are re-used, some parts may break and the whole stillage then needs to be replaced after a few trips. This can represent a huge environmental loss as the lifetime of the stillage is short.
In order to avoid ordering a new stillage for each glass shipment (about 800 kg of metal each time!), AGC has teamed up with a stillage supplier to design new stillage called P08. This can be dismantled, so that if a part breaks it goes back to our stillage supplier for replacement. These stillages are returned after each shipment to our customers. At the end of their lifetime, the stillages are recycled.