Celebrations across the world mark the International Year of Glass
Glass has been a touchpoint of celebration, commerce, culture and science for over two thousand years – now, 2022 is being marked as the ‘International Year of Glass’, with hundreds of events taking place around the world to celebrate the unique characteristics of glass in all its forms.
An ancient material with a rich cultural heritage, glass is more important to modern life than ever before: versatile and easily innovated, it is a potential enabler of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. That’s why, in May 2021, the UN General Assembly formally declared 2022 as the International Year of Glass (IYOG), celebrating the pivotal role that glass has played in our society for thousands of years.
The IYOG marks a perfect opportunity to better showcase why glass remains the best material for achieving a sustainable future for us and for the planet. However, celebrations of glass already started across the globe as early as summer 2021.
August 2021: Indian students celebrated the coming Year of Glass in artistic style
In August 2021, students in India celebrated the upcoming Year of Glass through art. At the virtual annual general meeting from the All India Glass Manufacturers’ Federation (AIGMF), glass lovers from 7 to 24 years old were encouraged to submit their creative photos for a touring photography exhibition entitled ‘Glass in our Lives’. The exhibition received a whopping 7000 entries from India’s youth, with the jury awarding prizes to the top 3 photos. Explore the entries here!
This event is just one of the thousands set to take place over the next year, as glass lovers around the world are launching their own events, competitions and exhibitions to pay tribute to the wonders of glass.
February 2022: International Year of Glass launches with Geneva celebrations
Celebrations for the International Year of Glass kicked off with a two-day Opening Ceremony in Geneva at the UN Palace of Nations. Bringing together glass communities from across the world, the programme features 30 renowned speakers to share the latest scientific and technical insights, and thoughts on how glass will be key to shaping the sustainable society of the future in line with the UN 2030 Agenda. Catch up here!
The ceremony in Geneva is the culmination of five years of effort by the International Year of Glass Council to acknowledge the mark glass has made – and continues to make – on civilisation. Glass has accompanied humankind for centuries, as one of the most important, versatile, and transformative materials in history. Used in everything from packaging food and drink in containers, to vaccine distribution, glass is a leading example of sustainable packaging – and its footprint also extends to construction, medicine and dentistry, communication technology, and beyond. As efforts to build a truly sustainable future accelerate, glass is an ideal packaging for adopting sustainable production and consumption patterns including reuse and recycling.
Representing the International Year of Glass Council, John Parker commented:
“Whether you’re a brand looking to make your product stand out, or a consumer keen to celebrate an iconic material, 2022 is the year to recognise glass for its many proven credentials and build on a longstanding cultural heritage for example by advancing its contribution to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Europe enjoys the world’s highest glass recycling rates, and significant progress has been made in glass manufacturing in recent years to increase sustainable production and consumption. There is further potential to progress towards a climate-neutral Circular Economy, by moving to renewable energies and advancing the sustainable use of natural resources. This all starts with encouraging more people to choose and recycle glass, to appreciate its recycling and reuse as an inherent part of our future consumption patterns, and to do it right, so that more glass ends back in new production loops.”
Throughout 2022: Glass goes global
The Opening Ceremony is just the start! With the IYOG receiving over 1100 endorsements from around 74 countries, there’s sure to be a celebration of glass somewhere near you. If you’re interested in science, technology and business, there’s plenty of opportunities to celebrate glass. Between the official opening event in Switzerland and the closing ceremony in Japan, you’ll be busy with ‘Glasspex/Glasspro’ in Mumbai in March, the ‘International High-Tech Industrial Congress’ in Shanghai in April, ‘GLASSMAN’ in Monterrey in May and ‘Glasstech’ in Düsseldorf in September. That’s just naming a few.
If art, culture and history are more your thing, you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s something for you too. Whether it be at the ‘International Festival of Art’ in Stourbridge, UK, the ‘Iberoamerican International Congress of Women in Glass: Artists and Scientists’ in Madrid or the ‘From Pharaohs to High Tech Glass in Egypt’ exhibition in King Tutankhamun’s Tomb, you’re bound to find something to whet your artistic appetite. Explore the full calendar of celebrations here.
Join in the celebrations
Wherever you’re located, you too can be a part of these special celebrations! With over 1000 special events planned, you won’t have to look too far to get involved. But if you don’t want to go too far, here are a few ways you can get involved at home:
Upskill your recycling knowledge
78% of all glass packaging placed on the EU market is collected for recycling – more than 3 in 4 bottles or jars! But we know we can do better, to collect and recycle every last bottle, jar and flacon that goes out onto the supermarket shelves, from Aberdeen to Agrigento, and bring it back into the loop. How well do you understand glass recycling – do you know what glass can be recycled and what can’t? And how can you help close the glass loop, wherever you live?
Get green fingered
Whether you have an acre of land or a tiny windowsill space, there’s nothing like gardening to lift the spirits and reconnect with nature – so why not bring the outdoors indoors, with a little help from your used glass? As the seasons turn, take a look at all those used glass bottles or jars around the house – and unleash your green fingers with some easy home garden glass DIY projects.
Explore stories from the glass industry
The Year of Glass is all about celebrating how glassmaking has shaped local heritage since the Romans, so why not take a moment to learn how glass manufacturing continues to evolve to meet today’s sustainability demands? Or how your favourite brands and retailers are rising to the challenge posed by packaging waste?
In short, it’s time to celebrate the past, present, and future of this iconic material, and reflect on how glass is driving progress towards the UN Agenda 2030 goals. That’s why the container glass industry invites all brands, customers, and retailers to join in the celebrations, to promote, enjoy and recycle products in glass as the packaging of tomorrow, for the health of the public and the planet.
Why do you love glass? How are you planning to celebrate? Be sure to tell us on social media!