Exclusive GMIC interview

Having recently joined CelSian as Technical Director for the USA following his most recent role at O-I of Global Glass Materials Science Leader, Scott Cooper is continuing to serve as President of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council (GMIC). Mr Cooper described to Glass Worldwide, preferred journal of GMIC, the organisation’s role of co-ordinating common interests across the manufacturing segments. The full version of this article appears in the Sept/Oct 2023 issue that has been mailed globally and is also now available free of charge in the digital archive*.

Exclusive GMIC interview

GW: What has it meant to you to serve as president of the GMIC since 2021, especially with 2022 coinciding with the International Year of Glass?

It has been the most impactful professional activity in my career to date. I believe that this is a critical moment for the glass industry. The changes over the last three years in the workforce and the industry’s approach to sustainability are unprecedented. These are huge challenges and ones that a single company cannot solve alone. The glass industry recognises the need to collaborate and there is now more momentum to work together than ever.

It is no exaggeration to say that 2022 changed my life. I was incredibly lucky to have been President of GMIC during the International Year of Glass (IYoG) and participate in the special events last year. The IYoG offered GMIC an unprecedented stage to tell the story of glass’ impact to society and we seized the opportunity. For example, GMIC went to meet with Congress for the first time. I did not know what to expect in those meetings, but they really listened to what we had to say. In addition, last year GMIC restarted active conversations with the US Department of Energy (DOE). I believe it is critical to raise awareness of the industry’s needs at a federal level. The ability to advocate for the whole industry through GMIC during the IYoG in 2022 gave me the confidence to make the leap to CelSian, where I can continue to be a champion for the US glass industry as a whole.

GW: How successful is the GMIC in representing the interests of the glass manufacturing industry and bridging the different sectors?

GMIC is the only association that represents the interests of all glassmakers in North America. It was originally founded with the idea of being one voice to be able to speak to the government agencies such as the DOE. It’s been great to restart those active conversations with DOE and it comes at an essential time. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act contain language specifically calling out glass as a target for investment. This only happens when an organisation like GMIC highlights the importance of this industry.

GW: What have your priorities been during your term so far?

My priority has been to increase GMIC’s impact. There have been a few big initiatives in this effort over the last two years. First, we needed to seize the unprecedented stage of the IYoG to highlight the impact of glass manufacturing to society. We did this by helping organise the National Day of Glass, visiting Congress and the UN. Second, we are closely tracking funding opportunities to ensure that GMIC members can apply for funding through the DOE for decarbonization projects. GMIC even applied for our own R&D grant on electric melting and are awaiting a decision on that project in the fall.

GW: And what will your focus be for the remainder of your tenure?

The next area that GMIC can tackle is education. We have heard from the industry that there is a gap in training and talent retention at the plant level. GMIC has historically approached education through great programming at Glass Problems Conference, symposia and webinars. We are evaluating how to reach people in glass factories with technical training and education. GMIC wants to play a role of up-skilling the people in the factories who can put their knowledge to use every day.

GW: Appointed recently, what does Kerry Ward bring to the role of Executive Director of GMIC and how important to you as President is interaction with him as well as Board Officers and Trustees?

Kerry has been a great addition to GMIC. He came to us with a long, successful background in managing non-profit associations. Additionally, he comes from a manufacturing family in Michigan, so he really understands what GMIC represents. He believes in an active and involved Board of Trustees and lets the board set the strategy. Kerry has wonderful experience in creating programming, education, and marketing – which are all going to make a difference for GMIC.

GW: Having worked previously at the world’s largest container glass manufacturer, how would you describe the benefits of GMIC membership to glassmakers?

GMIC can do things that a single company cannot do on its own, such as government advocacy, creating training programmes and attracting young talent to the industry. Being a glass manufacturing member of GMIC allows you to leverage shared resources to do these activities which would be difficult to do alone. We have seen that the more actively that companies participate, the more benefit they bring to their organisation.

GW: With the 84th Conference on Glass Problems, organised jointly by GMIC and Alfred University, due to take place on 6–9 November 2023, what is the motivation for CelSian to traditionally present papers and exhibit at GPC as a leader in optimising glass melting processes?

CelSian strives to continually be on the forefront of glass technology, solving the toughest new challenges. As a ‘think tank’ for the glass industry, it is important for us to have visibility at events such as Glass Problems. The glass industry works on a very personal basis and relationships last for many years. Glass Problems is an inviting atmosphere to catch up with colleagues while also learning what is new.

GW: As preferred journal of GMIC and official journal of GPC, how does Glass Worldwide contribute to these bodies’ goals?

Glass Worldwide and other publications serve a key role in keeping everyone aware of new ideas, products, and market developments. Without these resources we would be far less collaborative and the industry would stagnate.

GW: What was the motivation for you to recently join CelSian as Technical Director for the USA?

My involvement in GMIC gave me a deep perspective of the needs in the US glass industry. In this country, there are a lot of opportunities such as training the workforce, addressing emissions, better automation and improving sustainability. The need to decarbonise is not going away and I believe it is going to drive a proliferation of technical approaches to melting glass. These needs align with CelSian’s strengths; therefore I think we will make a big impact with a US-based office. I am delighted to be working to move the whole industry towards a more sustainable future.

GW: What are your main areas of responsibility and what are your hopes and aspirations for the position?

My goal is to be the US glass industry’s go-to technical ambassador. In pursuit of that aim, my role is to partner with manufacturers to solve difficult challenges and deploy glass technologies. I am working to build a sharp local team to complement CelSian’s experts in Eindhoven. My hope is that our work will make glass in the US will be more sustainable – not only in the environmental context, but also in fostering a pipeline of knowledgeable, innovative people for the industry.

GW: How useful will your previous experience as O-I’s Global Glass Materials Science Leader be in your new role?

I am incredibly grateful for the experience and support O-I gave me. I gained a perspective on the challenges (technical, economic, and social) that glassmakers face in different parts of the world. Personally, I truly enjoyed teaching people while at O-I and am looking forward to continuing that with the CelSian Academy. I am excited for the chance to build a world-class team right here in Toledo, Ohio.

GW: How committed is the North American glass industry to meeting net zero targets and how is CelSian partnering with glassmakers in the region to realise significant improvements in the manufacturing process?

In the last couple of years, many North American glass manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to science-based targets. These targets are emissions goals deemed in line with the Paris Agreement: to limit global warming to 1.5–2°C above pre-industrial levels. These are aggressive targets, typically amounting to 25–50% CO2 reductions by 2030. While companies based in Europe may have regulatory requirements to meet these targets, I believe many US-based companies are adopting these goals because they see it is necessary to stay competitive in the global market. CelSian is partnering with these companies to evaluate new furnace technologies (such as hydrogen-fired, electric, or hybrid designs). Additionally, CelSian offers tools to maximise furnace efficiency such as the energy balance model and CO+ sensor.

Further Information: 

Glass Manufacturing Industry Council, Ohio,USA
tel: +1 614 523 3033
email: info@gmic.org
web: www.gmic.org

CelSian Glass & Solar BV
email: scott.cooper@celsianglass.com
web: www.celsian.nl

* Alongside a detailed GPC preview, the full version of this article appears in the bumper Sept/Oct issue that has been mailed globally. The digital version of this issue can also currently be read free of charge in its entirety in the Digital Archive (sponsored by FIC) of over 65 issues of Glass Worldwide at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/Digital-Issues. To receive the paper copy, all future issues and a free copy of the Who’s Who / Annual Review 2023-24 yearbook, subscribe now at https://www.glassworldwide.co.uk/subscription-choice