Glass is a (usually) transparent, non-crystalline amorphous solid that has many important applications in a variety of industries worldwide. Naturally occurring glass such as obsidian was used by humans during the Stone Age, and glassmaking began at least 6,000 years ago. Today, glass is known for its extensive use in windows and bottles. The most common types of glass are made primarily with soda ash and silica, as well as other additives. Recycled glass is also often used in the production of new glass.
Glass manufacturing processes
There are two main methods of producing glass. The first is the float glass process that is used to manufacture architectural glass, and the second is the glassblowing process that produces containers such as bottles and jars. The float glass process, also known as the Pilkington process, was developed by Sir Pilkington in 1952, and involves feeding a ribbon of molten glass from a furnace onto a bath of molten tin. This process produces a sheet of glass with a uniform thickness and a very smooth surface, which can be used to make windows and any other applications requiring flat sheets of glass. China is by far the largest exporter of float glass, accounting for a 13 percent share of the global export value in 2021.
The glassblowing technique was first used around the first century BCE, and deals with the inflation of molten glass into a bubble by using a blowpipe. Throughout time, this process was further developed into two main techniques: mold blowing and free blowing. In 2023 the production volume of glass bottles and containers amounted to an estimated 743 billion units worldwide. Due to the extremely high temperatures required to produce glass, glass manufacturing overall has a high carbon footprint. In 2022, the global carbon dioxide emissions from glass manufacturing amounted to 95 million metric tons.
Glass industry growth
The glass industry is continuously growing. The global market value of glass bottles and containers is forecast to grow to 96.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2029, while the market volume is forecast to grow to over 916 billion units by the following year. As an infinitely recyclable, reusable, and more sustainable alternative to plastic packaging, glass is regaining some of its popularity in the packaging world, especially as many countries have placed bans and limitations on plastic packaging in recent years. Indeed, the market value of the glass packaging industry worldwide is expected to grow from 55.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 to 88.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2032.
This text provides general information. Statista assumes no
liability for the information given being complete or correct.
Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date
data than referenced in the text.
Research lead covering energy, chemicals & resources