SCHOTT solutions no. 1/2011 > Environmental Protection

From sand to pieces of broken glass, many different raw materials are used to make glass (lower left photo). To protect the environ- ment, SCHOTT avoids using the heavy metals arsenic and antimony during manufacturing of the Pyran® Platinum glass-ceramic for fire resistant glazing. Photo: SCHOTT/J. Meyer

Certifiably Environmentally Friendly

SCHOTT has now successfully achieved Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) Certification for Pyran® Platinum fire-rated glass-ceramic in the United States.

Karen Wegert

Sustainability and life cycle analysis are becoming increasingly important as consumers and industry experts ask for the facts to back-up environmental claims. SCHOTT continuously looks for ways to meet its customers’ requests for environmentally friendly products and manufacturing processes. In 2010, the company achieved C2C Certification for Pyran® ­Platinum fire-rated glass-ceramic for the U.S. market.

The application process began by documenting how the corporate goal of protecting the environment and conserving natural resources can be met. One way to achieve this is to stop using the heavy metals that are often used as refining agents in glass-ceramic melts. For example, the architectural product ­Pyran® Platinum fire-rated glass-ceramic is produced exclusively using the microfloat process without the refining additives ­antimony and arsenic.
The next challenge was to inform architectural customers on how they can add value to building projects by using this environmentally friendly, fire-rated glazing product. McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC)’s C2C Certification Program was chosen because of its close ties with the Leadership in Energy & Environment Design (LEED) building rating system. C2C CertifiedCM products help a building qualify for Innovation in Design points in any LEED rating system.
Pyran® Platinum is the world‘s first transparent glass-ceramic to be produced using the microfloat process. The surface of the glass becomes extremely smooth in the process and there is no need to do any polishing. Photo: SCHOTT
C2C Certification is a rigorous eco-label that evaluates all aspects of manufacturing, including raw material toxicity to both human and environmental health, recyclability, renewable energy use, water conservation, and corporate social responsibility. The program also includes an in-depth site audit of the manufacturing facility.

As a first step, SCHOTT had to disclose the chemical composition of its product, along with the specifications from all of its raw material suppliers and detailed process flow diagrams of its production process.

The second step in the application process was to collect energy and water usage data at the manufacturing site, SCHOTT Technical Glass Solutions in Jena, Germany. SCHOTT Quality Manager Friedemann Töpfer said, ”Although we have been focused on improving the ecological impact of our production processes, in working with the C2C Program we learned to consider the totality of the environmental impact of our product.”

20 percent of the electricity needed comes from renewable sources. The solar electricity that is put back into the grid is generated on-site. Water conservation has also been a major focus at the Jena site. A water balance and flow diagram that shows all water usage and wastewater streams was provided to MBDC. Graywater is already used for 90 percent of the total water needs at the site. Freshwater is used only for drinking water and sensitive manufacturing process steps. All process water is in continuous loops, and only evaporative losses are replaced. SCHOTT’s experience with the C2C Certification process was very positive. In fact, the company achieved the Silver level. Certification is reviewed on an annual basis to give applicants the opportunity to strive for higher levels of certification. In summary, SCHOTT has now implemented a recycling program for its glass-ceramic that was long considered to be not technically feasible in the US. The company is now considering applying for C2C Certification for its environmentally friendly products in other markets.


Waste Equals Food

In connection with sustainability and energy efficiency, ”waste” is a term that usually has a negative connotation. The Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) framework, on the other hand, says that “waste equals food” can feed industry and the planet. Nature serves as the role model for this, since it produces an abundance of everything and recycles all things that are old to build new things. Using these principles as a model for industry is described in the book ”Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” co-authored by architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart. These innovative leaders founded the Cradle to Cradle® design framework, which calls for manufacturers to design products with the materials’ next life in mind and also take responsibility to help their customers keep those materials in closed-loop cycles. <|