Glass packaging giant O-I Glass has been selected to begin award negotiations for up to $125m in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

The funding aims to help O-I spearhead the development of technologies that will further reduce carbon emissions in glass production.

It comes from the DoE’s Industrial Demonstrations Program, a $6bn initiative designed to empower energy-intensive industries such as glass manufacturing to transition towards cleaner operations.

O-I’s decarbonisation project was selected as one of 33 projects across more than 20 states in the US.

O-I’s project, dubbed ‘Glass Furnace Decarbonization Technology,’ will focus on the complete rebuild of four furnaces across its facilities in California, Ohio, and Virginia.

The company said these upgrades are expected to deliver a substantial decrease in greenhouse gas emissions.

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A closer look at the project’s core objectives:

Slashing carbon footprint: The project aims for a dramatic reduction in scope 1 (direct) carbon dioxide emissions, targeting an estimated annual cut of 48,000 tonnes. This translates to an average decrease of 40% across the four upgraded furnaces and their corresponding production lines.

Technological breakthrough: O-I said it plans to be the first company to implement a combination of five advanced furnace technologies simultaneously. These innovative solutions aim to minimise waste heat and significantly increase electrification, leading to a more energy-efficient production process and a demonstrably lower emissions profile.

Scalability and knowledge sharing: O-I believes the project will serve as a crucial test bed to assess the effectiveness of combining these technologies across different glass colours and container types.

O-I anticipates a significant job creation opportunity from the project.

Each furnace rebuild is expected to generate up to 300 construction jobs, bringing the total to a potential 1,200 jobs across all four facilities.

The company further emphasises its commitment to fair labour practices by planning to establish project labour agreements and community workforce agreements, ensuring local opportunities and fair treatment for workers.

Social responsibility and community focus

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also said to be central to O-I’s approach throughout this project.

The company stated it is actively committed to fostering a workforce that reflects the communities it serves, with a focus on engaging groups such as women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and veterans.