Owens-Illinois Inc., Perrysburg, Ohio, the world's largest manufacturer of glass packaging, plans to cut energy consumption by 50% and carbon emissions by 65% over the next decade.

With 2007 as a baseline for this plan, O-I also intends to nearly double its use of recycled glass by 2017. Specifically, it plans to reach a global average of 60% recycling of O-I containers by then.

"Our recent life cycle assessment showed that glass already has a smaller carbon footprint than other packaging materials,” says Al Stroucken, O-I’s chief executive officer. “However, we see room for additional improvement in the carbon footprint of glass and our company as the world's leading maker of glass packaging. While our goals are extremely aggressive, we are confident that they are achievable and that they will have a significant and positive impact on the environment. Our goal is to be the world's most sustainable glass packaging maker."

O-I has already undertaken a number of steps to meet these goals, including reducing some bottle weights by nearly 30% and cutting energy usage by 8% over the past three years.

Achieving the company's recycling goals may require addressing fundamental challenges in the way recycling systems currently function. "Recycling systems work well in certain parts of the world,” says Jay Scripter, O-I vice president of sustainability. "Europe has the most sophisticated and successful programs, but in the United States and other countries, a significant amount of glass slated for recycling actually ends up in landfills. We want to use that glass to make new glass containers. O-I has an opportunity to be a leader on this issue and make a significant impact."

O-I estimates that every 10% of recycled glass used in production cuts carbon emissions by 5% and saves 3% in energy use. Currently, the average recycled content in O-I bottles is an industry-leading 36%.

The company intends to issue reports on its progress in achieving these sustainability goals in the future.