European industries fear glass shortage

Amidst its battle with Ukraine, Russia has curtailed the export of natural gas to Europe. European governments are therefore preparing for exigent times. They have planned to encourage gas conservation and ration gas for the energy-intensive industries in case of disruption in supplies. European businesses like car makers, bottle manufacturers, high-rise builders and artisanal glassblowers, too are preparing for a possible glass shortage due to short supply of Russian gas.

Companies relying heavily on glass, have started stockpiling, even at high cost. The production process for glass requires melting sand, soda ash and limestone, and in Europe the energy to create the needed temperatures has largely come from Russian gas. Some industry analysts fret a serious shortage could result in another supply-chain disruption like those set off by the pandemic, post-lockdown demand and the war in Ukraine.

For glass manufacturers, the pressure of gas-supply uncertainty gets more complicated by the fact that they cannot shut down quickly since the hot liquid glass would cool and harden, and thus break the equipment. “You can’t just turn the machines off,” explains Bertrand Cazes, secretary-general of the Glass Alliance, a lobby group. 

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