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By 2020, around 14 billion EUR will be invested in European glass factories.

The plants have to be modernized to comply with the new limit values of the Industrial Emission Directive, which will result in annual investment increases by up to 50 percent. These are the results of a study by the German consultancy ecoprog.

The European Industrial Emissions Directive came into force in 2013. For the first time ever, it defines obligating limit values for air and water emissions in different industrial sectors. These limit values are effective throughout the EU and the affected industries have to implement them by 2016. Their respective limit values are defined in the so-called BAT reference documents and their legally binding summaries, the BAT conclusions.

The glass industry was one of the first sectors these BAT conclusions have been published for. Such specifications are a completely new issue for the companies and therefore result in considerable uncertainties. Their implementation will thus also give a signal to other industrial sectors.

More than 420 of the largest European glass factories have to comply with the new emission limit values (ELVs). The ELVs for nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides will be particularly challenging for many glass factory operators.

This means that most glass manufacturers have to invest in modernizing their glass factories. Funds will go to optimizing individual production processes or to new technical components for flue gas cleaning, furnace technology or sealing the melter. According to a survey for this study, many operators in Eastern Europe are also considering to construct a new glass furnace.

The Industrial Emission Directive does not only force the manufacturers into unscheduled investments. They also have to prepone routine investments as they have to comply with the ELVs at a specific date. Up to 2.7 billion EUR will be invested in European glass factories in 2016 and 2017. This investment sum will then decrease to around 1.5 billion EUR in the subsequent years.

Investments will increase the most in regions with so far less strict legal frameworks, as is the case in many Eastern European states. However, there are also many glass factories lacking state-of-the-art technology in countries such as France and Spain.

By 2020, about 2.3 billion EUR will be invested in glass factories in Eastern Europe and 4.1 billion EUR in Southern European plants. This is an increase of up to 50 percent compared to the average investments of the past years.

Published in the August 2014 Edition of American Recycler News