US-headquartered Owens-Illinois (O-I) has announced the opening of a $47m glass container manufacturing plant in Vietnam, in partnership with Thailand-based Berli Jucker (BJC) and Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Company (SABECO).

The new plant, completed in November 2011, will initially produce about 75,000t of mainly returnable premium glass containers annually for the Vietnamese beer, soft drink, food, wine, spirits and pharmaceutical markets.

O-I said the plant can extend to four lines and reach a production capacity of 84,000t of glass, with the ability to adapt to market trends.

The plant uses natural gas for improved sustainability and has one furnace, three glass-making lines and two applied ceramic labelling printing lines.

It will replace an existing facility in District 4 of Ho Chi Minh City that was recently vacated by O-I BJC to facilitate the city’s urban development plans.

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O-I CEO and Chairman Al Stroucken said: ‘Vietnam is experiencing strong economic growth, which clearly provides opportunity for the glass industry.

‘Glass is the most economical and sustainable packaging available, especially when using returnable containers, so it is vital that we have operations in place as the markets in this region grow and mature.’

BJC president Aswin Techajareonvikul said the company focused on regional expansion in South East Asia, particularly Indochina and Malaysia.

‘The opening of the latest facility will further strengthen our foothold in Vietnam, where we have established trading and manufacturing operations in industrial and consumer products,’ added Techajareonvikul.

In the 2011 financial year, O-I reported full year net sales of $7.4bn, up from $6.6bn in 2010, with its shipped tonnes increasing by more than 5% from the previous year as volumes improved across all regions.

The company’s fourth quarter net sales from continuing operations jumped to $1.81bn from $1.72bn in the same period of 2010, as shipped tonnes increased by more than 4% year-on-year.

Caption: O-I’s Vietnamese plant will initially produce about 75,000t of returnable premium glass containers every year. Image courtesy of nuchylee