Glass is for many reasons the preferred packaging material compared to alternatives such as metal, plastic and paper. Glass packaging successfully meets the packaging demands of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics through its clarity, inertness, gas tightness and design variety. The product is heat- and humidity-resistant, aseptic, anti-static and environmentally safe. Glass provides optimal taste and smell protection for the contents, as well as being non-toxic to humans, animals and plants. It is made from abundant natural raw materials and its 100% recyclability is unlimited. Nevertheless, there are two challenges to be considered, namely weight and fragility.
Sometimes, weight can be considered a positive aspect of glass packaging. For example, think of the smooth texture, the reassuring heft and the feel of value when lifting a glass wine bottle. Fragility demands from us a sense of caution and delicacy â€“ to handle with care. However, this weight and fragility were the fundamental reasons for four well-known glass container producers and one forming equipment manufacturer to found in 1984 the research and development partnership called International Partners in Glass Research (IPGR). Two still active founding members are Nihon Yamamura Glass from Japan (represented by Masami Wakimoto) and Emhart Glass, Switzerland (represented by Martin Jetter), along with Wiegand-Glas, Germany (represented by Oliver Wiegand), who joined a year later.
Since 2000, IPGR has been based in Switzerland, operating under Swiss law. It pursues the membership of technologically-leading glass container manufacturers worldwide. Over the last 10 years, five additional firms have joined IPGRâ€™s ranks: Vidrala, Spain (represented by Enrique Iturbe); Gallo Glass, USA (represented by John Gallo); Vetropack, Switzerland (represented by GÃ¼nter Lubitz); ÅžiÅŸecam, Turkey (represented by Abdullah Kilinc); and Fevisa, Mexico (represented by Juan Silva). And quite recently with beginning in 2012 two more companies, Amcor Glass, Australia (represented by Greg Savage) and for now as passive member Bangkok Glass Industries (represented by Surasak Decharin) joined IPGR. The IPGR members represent now more than 12% of the world wide container glass production capacity.
In contrast to other renowned international federations, such as the European Container Glass Federation FEVE or the Glass Packaging Institute GPI, which represent the lobby interests of the glass container industry in Europe and the USA respectively, IPGR focuses on R&D followed by practical application. IPGR creates a vital, international research network and conducts development projects with glass container manufacturers in non-competitive markets.
The focus of IPGR research work is on increasing the competitiveness of glass containers versus alternative choices. Improved competitiveness is achieved through increasing glass strength, precision control of the manufacturing processes and optimising the forming process. Additionally (and most likely the major topic for the glass industry in general) by working on improving energy efficiency in glass melting and reducing emissions IPGR is also creating a benefit for the container glass industry.