Pending extended deposit | The Pointe-Saint-Charles glass factory is modernized

We thought the 117-year-old factory was doomed with the rise in popularity of aluminum jars, but the expanded deposit on glass jars is giving it a second wind.

Posted at 6:00 am

Andre Dubuc

Andre Dubuc
The press

Ohio-based Owens-Illinois Glass is investing $70 million in its Montreal facilities over four years to capitalize on the Quebec deposit expansion, which will become effective in fall 2023.

“The locker upgrade is such a big requirement for this facility,” said Tim Connors, general manager, North America, Owens-Illinois, in a short speech.

A total of “75,000 tons of glass that would previously have ended up in landfills will end up in our furnaces in the future. It’s a remarkable achievement. As a result, our share of recyclables will be well above the average of our systems. It will be well over 50%.


PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Tim Connors, General Manager, North America, Owens-Illinois

The announcement was the subject of a press event on Tuesday afternoon at the Wellington Street factory in Pointe-Saint-Charles in the presence of Ministers Pierre Fitzgibbon and Benoit Charette. Quebec is contributing $21 million: $19 million in a loan and $2 million in a grant.

From selective collection to deposit

Given the way roadside recycling works in Quebec, the recovered glass is so contaminated that it ends up in landfill as backfill.

“The deposit will give Owens-Illinois security of supply,” said Environment Minister Benoit Charrette in an interview after the event. “Without this reform, we might think that these investments would not have seen the light of day, at least not on this scale,” he added.

In the future, thanks to the deposit, the glass recovered will be of better quality, so it will be used by the plant’s 400 workers as input for the manufacture of new glass containers.


PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

Tim Connors, General Manager, North America, at Owens-Illinois, and Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon

Manufacturing from recycled glass is an advantage for Owens-Illinois because the process is less energy intensive and emits fewer greenhouse gases. Currently, recycled glass (often imported for quality reasons) makes up around 30% of the bottle, says Minister Fitzgibbon. It will be much more, as pointed out by Mr. Connors.

Guaranteed sustainability

For industrial activity on the island of Montreal, the sustainability of the Pointe-Saint-Charles glassworks is good news. That businesses are an endangered species, as evidenced by the move of the venerable Molson Brewery to the suburbs in recent years.

If I am not mistaken, among the great industrial complexes of yore are the Lantic Sugar Refinery, Boulevard Pie-IX, the JTI-Macdonald Tobacco Company, rue Ontario Est, Robin Hood, rue Notre-Dame Ouest, near Saint-Henri and Five Roses in Peel Basin. We also need to add the newer Labatt Brewery in the LaSalle neighborhood.


PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVE

The Owens Illinois Plant, Wellington Street

The Owens-Illinois facility, which has worked in the same family for up to four generations of glassmakers, produces 1.5 million containers a day, 360 days a year. It supplies the Canadian market and the Northeastern United States.

More than half of the sum of 70 million has already been invested. It was used to acquire a new Furnace B, which handles amber glass, the most common example of which is the 12 ounce dark beer bottle. Three forming machines are also purchased with the money.


PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

The factory yard

“Previously, it was difficult to replace products on our old machines,” said Mathieu Bouchard, head of the manufacturing unit. “We mostly made the bottle of dark beer. With our new B furnace we are now more flexible. We are able to make glass color changes. We are able to access bottles of different formats that we could not manufacture before. So the factory started producing amber glass wine bottles.

Furnace A, on the other hand, specializes in clear glass. The Montreal facility is recognized for its spirit bottle expertise by the Owens-Illinois network of 18 North American facilities. It performs 225 production changes a year, the highest number on the company’s network, says Mr. Bouchard.

Owned by Glashütte Pointe-Saint-Charles over the years

  • Dominion flint glass from 1905 to 1913
  • Dominating glass from 1913 to 1976
  • Cathedral glass from 1976 to 1989
  • Consumer glass from 1989 to 2001
  • Owens-Illinois Canada since 2001

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