Diageo embarks on hydrogen-powered furnace with Encirc

Diageo embarks on hydrogen-powered furnace with Encirc

The hybrid furnace at Encirc’s glassworks in Elton, Cheshire (UK) will begin glass production in 2027. The goal is to produce 200 million net zero spirits bottles for Diageo’s Smirnoff, Captain Morgan, Gordon’s and Tanqueray brands annually by 2030.

Hot on the heels of Ardagh Group and Absolut’s (Pernod Ricard) announcement of a hydrogen furnace pilot in Sweden for the second half of next year, Encirc and Diageo have announced plans for a hybrid glass furnace in the UK that the parties claim “will create the world’s first net zero glass bottles at scale”.

Glassmaker and co-packer Encirc (Vidrala) will build the furnace at its site in Cheshire as part of its glass decarbonization efforts. Dedicated to spirits manufacturer Diageo’s Gordon’s, Tanqueray, Smirnoff and Captain Morgan brands, production is slated to start up in 2027. By 2030, the furnace is set to produce 200 million bottles per year.

Powered with a mix of green electricity and low carbon hydrogen (supplied by the Vertex Hydrogen plant, also in Cheshire), the furnace will reduce carbon emissions by 90% with carbon capture technology used to capture the remaining carbon emissions by 2030, according to Encirc and Diageo.

"This project is an integral part of Encirc’s capital investment in sustainability. Encirc will also seek to avail of any public funding available for innovation and fuel-switching projects and expect the UK government to support hydrogen fuel pricing," an Encirc spokesperson told Luxe Packaging Insight. The investment amount has not been revealed.

In a similar vein, just last month it was announced that Absolut Vodka (Pernod Ricard) bottles at glassmaker Ardagh's Limmared glassworks in Sweden will be produced with a partly hydrogen-fired glass furnace from the second half of 2023.

Ardagh's Limmared glassworks currently powers its furnaces with a combination of natural gas and electricity; as part of the pilot project, 20% of natural gas will be replaced with green hydrogen produced on site from renewable energy sources. Using hydrogen would reduce Absolut Vodka's carbon footprint from glass by 20%, according to the companies.

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