Environmental Achievements

AGC Glass Asia Pacific is committed to developing products that contribute to sustainable development and reducing the environmental impact of our production processes. We are also dedicated to forging a long-term process of continuous improvement to further enhance environmental protection. Here we assess our environmental impact and highlight the progress and achievements of our environmental activities.

1. Our Environmental Impact 

Atmospheric emissions from melting processes in glass manufacturing are the primary cause of its negative environmental impacts.

  • The combustion of natural gas and the decomposition of raw materials during the melting lead to the emission of CO2. This is the only greenhouse gas emitted during the production of glass
  • Decomposition of sulphate in the batch materials can release sulphur dioxide (SO2) and contribute to acidification
  • High melting temperatures and the decomposition of nitrogen compounds in the batch materials contribute to nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and may also cause acidification and formation of smog
  • Evaporation from the molten glass and raw materials may release particles into the atmosphere

Additionally, water contamination, the consumption of non-renewable natural resources including sand and minerals, the generation of solid waste and the emission of volatile organic compounds (used in production of mirrors and coatings) are also environmental concerns that we must monitor.

The steps we have taken include the complete substitution of fuel to gas for the glass melting. Although a lot has already been achieved, further reductions in emissions of SO2, dust particles, NOx and CO2 are still the main environmental targets for our flat glass activities. The AGC Group actively participates in the dynamic process of developing new techniques to help tackle the complex task of minimising and controlling these emissions in an integrated manner. 
Most of these technologies come with both advantages and disadvantages. For example:

  • Swapping out heavy fuel for natural gas reduces CO2 and SO2 production but increase NOx emissions
  • Some NOx reduction technologies may result in an increase in CO2 when additional energy is required
  • SO2 reduction technologies may generate non-recyclable waste 
  • Some SO2 reduction technologies are incompatible with end-of-pipe de- NOx technologies 
  • Some technologies can affect the lifespan of the furnace or the quality of the glass

A glass furnace operates continuously and cannot be stopped or cooled down during its lifetime (15-18 years). Therefore, the majority of technologies can only be implemented when furnaces are shut down for upgrading. This is a major challenge that forces us to “Look Beyond” and make decisions for the long run. 
This report covers the major activities of the AGC Architectural Glass Division (including Upstream operations such as glass production and Downstream operations such as glass processing). The environmental impact of the downstream operations of glass processing has lower atmospheric emissions than the Upstream operations.

2. Gases and Emissions 

Greenhouse gases

In response to the ever-more serious issue of global warming, momentum is increasing around the world for realising carbon neutrality that would eliminate all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 in order to keep the global temperature increase to within 1.5 ºC of pre-industrial levels. The signing of the 2015 Paris Agreement sparked rising interest in climate change around the world at the national and governmental levels. As a result, stakeholders also have heightened expectations toward the roles companies should play and the initiatives they should invest in regarding climate change. Against this backdrop, in February 2021 the AGC Group set forth its long-term goals for 2050 of aiming to achieve net zero GHG emissions resulting from its business activities and contributing to the realisation of net zero carbon emissions globally by leveraging its products and technologies. 

Read more:
AGC Sustainability Data Book 2021 

Energy efficiency and CO2 emissions

The bulk of the direct CO2 emissions created by AGC Glass Asia Pacific comes from melting activities. About 70% of the CO2 emissions from the furnaces are energy-related, with the remaining 30% caused by the decomposition of the raw materials. As a result of recycling cullet, we are able to increase energy efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions by decreasing raw material and energy consumption required for melting. Read more about our glass recycling.  

This has resulted in a significant reduction of around 25% in CO2 direct emissions when compared to 2010 levels for Upstream Operations. 

The graph illustrates the change in direct CO2 emission over 2010 to 2021. It is observed that total direct CO2 emissions in 2021 is 25% lower compared to 2010. 

Breakdown of energy by type in all glass manufacturing plants of AGC Glass Asia Pacific 
The majority (78%) of energy used for the melting of raw materials in glass production in 2021 is generated from natural gas. Electrical energy accounts for only a minor share of 22% of the total energy usage in 2021.   
Heavy fuel oil usage had been gradually reduced since 2006 and was completely phased out in 2008. 

3. Opportunities in Glass Recycling

Glass is unique in that it is endlessly recyclable. We target to recycle as much glass cullet as possible during the production process. Glass cullet requires less energy to melt and replaces carbonated raw materials. By recycling cullet, we are able to reduce energy consumption and in turn reduce our CO2 emissions. Recycling of 1 tonne of cullet can avoid emissions of up to 700 kg of CO2

AGC Glass Asia Pacific recycles around 180,000 tonnes of cullet per year, saving about 207,000 tonnes of raw material and 126,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

We are devising several projects to improve collection and reuse of cullet at our plants in Asia, such as:

  • redirecting the flow of cullet to reduce transport distances between the source, the recycler and the float plant 
  • training our employees to sort the cullet efficiently for more effective recycling 
  • increasing the range of materials that we are able to load into our furnaces 
  • supporting the development of systems to collect flat glass from construction and demolition waste 

However, the cullet used in our own production process must meet stringent specifications. Hence, we also actively seek out alternative solutions for cullet that we cannot recycle into our own products. 



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