Glass manufacturer transparent about plans for rail freight
Glass container manufacturer Encirc has successfully completed trials of rail transport of finished bottles using the railhead at its Elton site in Cheshire, in the north of England. The company says emissions from distribution, part of Scope 3 emissions under the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, contribute significantly to the carbon footprint of container glass. Encirc has identified rail distribution as a potential solution to reducing those Scope 3 emissions.
The manufacturer’s Elton railhead, nearby Chester, is currently used to deliver raw materials and recycled glass used in the production process. However, Encirc has earmarked it to play a much bigger role in its plans to create an ultra-sustainable transport network for glass across the UK. The railhead is nearby other significant industrial infrastructure, and within a short distance of the West Coast Main Line, and access to the national rail network.
Conducted successful trials
“The potential benefits offered by our Elton railhead are significant,” said Adrian Curry, Managing Director of Encirc. “Developing our rail capacity across the UK will enable us to vastly reduce our own carbon footprint and that of our partners.” Encirc has conducted three successful trials over the last two years, providing a workable framework for how the rail transport network will work in practice.
Supported by logistics specialists WH Malcolm, locally based consultants MDS Transmodal and Cheshire West Council, the trials began in 2022 with the successful delivery of spirit bottles to a customer in Scotland and have most recently continued with the transport of bottles to the company’s newly acquired filling site, ‘The Park’, in Bristol. “The rail network can have a transformative impact on the carbon footprint of our supply chain, and that has a direct effect on those of our partners”, said Curry.
Modal shift to rail is part of a wider push
According to the company, each load of bottles and jars delivered by train is the equivalent to taking 66 lorries off the UK’s roads. Encirc say they intend to scale up significantly in the long term, with 70 per cent of bottles produced at the Cheshire site eventually leaving by rail. “Looking in more detail at the product itself, introducing rail to the supply chain will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle across its full lifecycle”, claim the company.
While Encirc recognises that not all of its customers will have capacity to receive deliveries by train, it is making strides towards intermodal transport where at least part of the journey is undertaken by rail rather than relying on road haulage exclusively. The modal shift to rail is part of a wider push to improve the sustainability of its operations, and follows on from a collaboration with global drinks brand Diageo to create hundreds of millions of zero-carbon bottles in a new hydrogen-powered furnace by 2030.
”We can do better with our supply chain without starting from scratch and make our operations a more positive influence in the supply chains of our partners and their customers”, said Curry. Bringing rail into the heart of their operations not only provides a valuable new customer for the rail freight industry, it makes a tangible difference to the UK as a whole. Encirc currently manufactures more than one in three of the glass bottles and jars used in the UK food and drinks industry. Between its two filling sites in Cheshire and Bristol, there’s plenty of modal shift scope bottled up.
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