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 – 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 and Emhart Glass, Switzerland, along with Wiegand-Glas, Germany, who joined a year later.
From 2000 to 2016, IPGR has been based in Switzerland, operating under Swiss law. Since 2016 IPGR is based in Germany. IPGR pursues the membership of technologically-leading glass container manufacturers worldwide. Over the last 10 years, five additional firms have joined IPGR’s ranks: Vidrala, Spain; Gallo Glass, USA; Vetropack, Switzerland; Şişecam, Turkey and Fevisa, Mexico. The most recent member, Orora, Australia, joined IPGR in 2012.
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.