SWEDEN – Through a strategic partnership with Packaging giant Ardagh Group, Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut Vodka is to become the first global spirits brand to move to a partly hydrogen energy-fired glass furnace for large-scale production.

The initiative undertaken by the two companies is an important milestone for the Absolut Vodka brand in becoming completely CO2-neutral by 2030, by reducing the carbon footprint of its glass packaging.

Ardagh’s Limmared glassworks, a subsidiary of Ardagh Group, which has been a partner of Absolut for 40 years, will supply the partly hydrogen-fired furnace.

The company currently uses a combination of natural gas and electricity to power furnaces used in its glass production facility in Sweden.

From the second half of 2023, Ardagh will launch a pilot in Absolut’s Limmared plant replacing 20 percent of its natural gas with green hydrogen, produced onsite at Ardagh by using renewably sourced electricity, to manufacture all of Absolut’s bottles across its portfolio.

Stéphanie Durroux, chief executive of Absolut, said: “Given we’ve been investing in our production for decades, decreasing our emissions and increasing energy efficiency, we’re now in a position where we also can focus on the parts of our value chain that are outside of our scope”.

 “The glass manufacturing industry is on a transformative journey, and the world can’t wait for the perfect solution. A bold and innovative approach is needed to accelerate radical change that will help solve the significant sustainability challenges that all glassmakers and buyers of glass face.”

The group noted several other initiatives that are also significant to reduce carbon emissions, such as the light-weighting of glass and the increased use of electricity and recycled flint glass.

In addition, Absolut Vodka has become a member of Glass Futures, a not-for-profit research, and technology organization connecting the industry and academia to build a Global Centre of Excellence for glass to create sustainable, low-carbon bottles.

In the spot of hydrogen used to manufacture glass, glassmaker Pilkington replaced natural gas with hydrogen at its factory in St Helens to manufacture sheet glass, also known as float glass.

The HyNet Industrial Fuel Switching project was led by Progressive Energy, with hydrogen being provided by BOC, as was designed to provide confidence that low-carbon hydrogen can replace natural gas.

Pilkington’s UK managing director Matt Buckley said the HyNet project “will be a massive step to support the company’s decarbonization activities”.

He added that the full-scale production trial over several weeks successfully demonstrated it was possible to use hydrogen to safely and effectively fire a float glass plant.

HyNet is focused on removing carbon from industry through a range of technologies, including the capturing and locking up of carbon and the production and use of hydrogen as a low-carbon fuel.

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