Published On: Thu, Oct 27th, 2022

Pilkington UK leads industry towards decarbonisation with carbon pledges

New carbon pledges by international glass manufacturer NSG Group have been certified as science based, as its UK subsidiary Pilkington UK completes a string of world-first trials towards achieving decarbonisation.

 The NSG Group will reduce its carbon emissions by 30% compared with 2018 levels, by 2030. It forms part of a wider plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, from emissions directly associated with its manufacturing to carbon produced in its supply chain.  The glass giant’s carbon pledge has been certified as science based by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), meaning it will effectively help to limit the average rise of global temperature to well below 2°C on pre-industrial revolution levels.

 Pilkington UK in St Helens, Merseyside, is pioneering the Group’s efforts to decarbonise its manufacturing operations after completing several world-first trials of low carbon biofuel and zero carbon hydrogen fuels to fire its glass furnace.Pilkington UK has worked with HyNet, a decarbonisation project working across the North West, to manufacture architectural glass using hydrogen instead of natural gas. The trial established that the float glass furnace, which accounts for around half of the UK company’s overall carbon emissions, can be run with significantly lower emissions without impacting product quality. 

 This year, Pilkington UK also became the world’s first flat glass manufacturer to fire its furnace on 100% biofuel, which emits substantially less CO2 than natural gas traditionally used in the sector. The fuel derived from waste materials powered the furnace in St Helens entirely for four days, and at the time this created 165,000m2 of the lowest carbon float glass ever made.

 Additional partnerships support the firm’s efforts to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050, including a collaboration with C-Capture in its successful application for funding through Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund, to test the applicability of its carbon-capture technology in glass manufacturing.  A project with KEW Technology will provide on-site fuel switching at both Pilkington UK sites in St Helens, involving Kew’s modular gasification units to replace carbon-intensive natural gas and reduce subsequent emissions.

 Neil Syder, MD at Pilkington UK, said: “Glass is an integral material for the construction industry supply chain. So, it’s essential that we decarbonise the glass production process in order for the built-environment to effectively achieve net-zero by 2050. Like any energy-intensive manufacturing business, decarbonisation represents a huge challenge for us to overcome. But our teams across the North West, in partnership with academics and industry groups, have made significant strides towards this goal. We’re proud that, where the modern float glass process was born 70 years ago, St Helens continues to pioneer the future of the glass industry.”