Verallia, the French glass producer owned by Saint-Gobain in Paris, has announced plans to invest $20 million over 18 months in order to modernize its South Seattle plant, which has been making glass bottles and containers since before the end of the Prohibition era. The retrofit will increase the plant’s mechanical processes while enabling it to use more sustainable resources. Verallia has also started a partnership with eCullet in a bid to increase its use of recycled glass — this stands to make a significant impact upon the industry, as Verallia is the premier wine bottle manufacturer for Washington, Oregon and British Columbia wineries, supplying over 90% of the bottles.

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Cullet, which is crushed recycled glass, is a crucial ingredient in the creation of glass bottles, and the new partnership between the two firms will see the amount of cullet used by the bottling firm double. eCullet, which is located on the same site as Verallia, will sort the glass into various colours and then transport it to Verallia’s plant where it will be mixed with the raw materials of sand, soda ash and limestone.

“Verallia’s new production line represents how they have been able to grow and adapt to the changing needs of their customers,” said Steven Sudol, senior manager of strategic sourcing for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in Woodinville. “It is crucial for us to be on the leading edge of packaging technology.”

“We are the major supplier up here for glass bottles for the wine industry,” said Doug Coburn, Verallia’s Seattle plant manager. Currently, 48 percent of the bottles produced at the plant are made from cullet; the goal is to increase that number to 50 percent by the end of the year. There are clear business benefits to recycling glass in addition to the environmental benefits. According to Joseph Grewe, CEO of Verallia North America, “For every bottle that we recycle, the energy saved could light a 60-watt light bulb for four hours … and for every 6 tons we use, we reduce CO2 emissions by a ton.”

The plant will also install new air compressors with the help of grants from Seattle City Light, which are expected to save an additional 2.4 million kilowatt-hours per year.

+ Verallia

+ eCullet

Via Seattle Times