Leone Industries, manufactures glass containers for food processors and liquor distillers. We are proud to be, perhaps, the most energy efficient and cleanest glass producer in the world. We heavily utilize recycled glass and state of the art equipment to constantly reduce and maintain a small environmental footprint. Glass is the only packaging material that the US Food and Drug Administration deems GRAS or “Generally Recognized as Safe.” It is largely inert and therefore neither gives off chemicals to the package’s contents nor absorbs chemicals from those contents. Glass packaging’s excellent barrier properties not only keep external contaminants, including odors, away from the product but also prevent oxygen from entering and causing spoilage. So foods and beverages packaged in glass have a long shelf life and require fewer preservatives—which is a good thing.
Glass’s chemical stability means that you could, if you wanted, landfill bottles without any problems. But to dispose of glass containers in a landfill wastes useful material, wastes land, wastes energy and ignores concerns about climate change.
A glass bottle can be melted down and reformed into another glass container over and over again through recycling. Recycled glass is not limited in the number of its useful life cycles (unlike, for instance, paper); nor does it have to be “down-cycled”—that is, recycled only into lower-value products—as some other packaging materials must. Glass, which uses much less energy than other packaging materials, retains a significant portion of the energy used to make it the first time and is easier and less energy-intensive to re-melt and reform: when you recycle one glass bottle you save enough energy to power an 100-watt light bulb for four hours (or, if you are truly active in conserving energy, an 11-watt compact fluorescent bulb for a day and a half).
More than 50 percent of each container we make is glass being recycled—either from our own production rejects or from curbside or other post-consumer collection methods. Our containers meet the highest standards in the US for post-consumer recycled content as set by California, Florida and Oregon. Leone Industries’ use of post- consumer recycled glass last year alone saved the energy equivalent of over one and a half million gallons of oil, saved the greenhouse gas (GHG) equivalent of burning about two and a quarter million gallons of oil (using equivalency measures developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency) and avoided the extraction and use of a huge amount of virgin raw materials. If only America’s recycling programs were more widespread and vigorous these savings could be much larger. In fact, for each additional ton of recycled glass we use, it replaces almost 1.2 tons of raw materials. Still, the materials our glass is made of—primarily sand, limestone and soda ash—are themselves earth-friendly and we don’t produce slag or other significant solid waste by-products when we make them into glass.
Leone Industries environmental policy dictates that we treat the planet with the utmost care. We don’t, for instance, use brick containing chrome or heavy metals in the construction of the furnace block that holds the glass while it is being melted at approximately 2800 degrees Fahrenheit. Our furnaces would last longer if we did, but we don’t. Chrome-bearing brick, when thrown away (unused or used), must be sent to and handled in special hazardous disposal facilities. We have decided to do it the right way and therefore, do not purchase them. We tread as lightly as possible on our planet as we have children also.
Our furnaces do not use air as do most glass furnaces around the world. Air is almost 80% nitrogen. Using air to burn fuels at the high temperatures glass furnaces operate converts some of that nitrogen to nitrogen oxide, or NOx, which according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is “one of the main ingredients involved in the formation of ground-level ozone, can trigger serious respiratory problems, contributes to the formation of acid rain and to nutrient overload that deteriorates water quality, contributes to atmospheric particles, that cause visibility impairment most noticeable in national parks, reacts to form toxic chemicals and contributes to global warming.” So we use a mixture that is over 90% oxygen, inject with natural gas—which is much cleaner than oil—into the glass furnace and produce far less NOx than if we used air. Is this a more expensive way to do it? Yes. Could we make the glass somewhere else where there are lower or no political or monetary consequences of pollution? Yes. We could but have decided to take the high road. A better package, made better for the environment, can only be the right way.
We are permitted by the NJ DEP and the US EPA and meet or perform better than our permitted air pollution standards. One of our furnaces has a state of the art pollution control device which has a closed environmental system whereby we ionize our recycled glass and preheat it with the effluent from the furnace (like out the chimney). The majority of the particulates (mostly catalysts and components of the raw materials that are given off in the glass forming process and condense into solids) that are caught in the hot air waste stream from the furnace attach themselves to these ionized particles of broken glass and are then re-melted into glass to be reformed later into new glass containers.
This is the ultimate win win. Instead of becoming part of the atmosphere the particulates become part of our product. At the same time the recycled glass “filter” is heated by the exhaust gases, so less energy is required to melt that glass later in the furnace. We keep our air cleaner, we save energy and we save materials. The combination of the furnace design, the oxygen system, the preheating of the incoming materials, and how we run the furnaces makes them very efficient. One of our furnaces uses less energy per unit of output than any other glass container furnace in the hemisphere and perhaps the world. All this means we are not emitting any more CO2 than necessary. We are currently in the planning/design stages of another evolution of a better pollution control/energy saving system which may even be more exciting.
We currently utilize quite a bit of water to cool various systems that come in contact with the high heat of the furnaces and in the handling of very hot glass that has not been formed or cooled into glass containers. We, however, use very little water as we have created another nearly closed system to cool the water prior to its next reuse cycle. Conserve, conserve, conserve.
Although we are not a food manufacturer, we believe we should be just as careful as if we were while we manufacture and handle our products. Because of this we voluntarily allow an outside auditor, AIB (American Institute of Baking) to periodically inspect, critique and rate our facilities for food safety. On our most recent inspection, we received their highest rating of Superior.
By producing a truly sustainable package, by managing our processes, by optimizing our energy use, by utilizing state of the art equipment from around the world, we are creating the ultimately sustainable program by being proud to provide good wages and benefits to our employees who make the products that you buy and most likely buy the products you make.
We are also proud to produce a product that is sustained because of our excellent products which proffer the food product or liquor in a clearly high quality presentation that preserves its quality longer than any similar packaging while having a very small environmental footprint.