Decarbonizing the glass industry: A critical and systematic review of developments, sociotechnical systems and policy options

Dylan D. Furszyfer Del Rio, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Aoife M. Foley, Steve Griffiths, Morgan Bazilian, Jinsoo Kim, David Rooney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Glass is a material inextricably linked with human civilization. It is also the product of an energy intensive industry. About 75%–85% of the total energy requirements to produce glass occur when the raw materials are heated in a furnace to more than 1500 °C. During this process, large volumes of emissions arise. The container and flat glass industries, which combined account for 80% of total glass production, emit over 60 million tonne of CO2 per year. However, environmental issues relating to the glass industry are not just limited to the manufacturing stage, but also from raw materials extraction, which impacts local ecosystems and creates other environmental challenges associated with tailing ponds, waste disposal and landfills. This systematic review poses five questions to examine these issues and themes: What alternatives exist to abate the climate effects of glass and thus make the full life cycle of glass more sustainable? What are the key determinants of energy and carbon from glass? What technical innovations have been identified to make glass manufacturing low to zero carbon? What benefits will amass from more carbon-friendly process in glass manufacturing, and what barriers will need tackling? To examine these questions, this study presents the findings of a comprehensive and critical systematic review of 701 studies (and a shorter sample of 375 studies examined in depth). A sociotechnical lens is used to assess glass manufacturing and use across multiple sectors (including buildings, automotive manufacturing, construction, electronics, and renewable energy), and options to decarbonize. The study identifies a number of barriers ranging from financial to infrastructural capacity, along with high potential avenues for future research.

Original languageBritish English
Article number111885
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Climate change
  • Climate mitigation
  • Energy policy
  • Glass
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Glass processes
  • Industrial decarbonization
  • Innovation
  • Net-zero
  • Sustainability transitions


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