Verescence North America runs two factories in the State of Georgia in America. The business uses one plant for glass production and the second facility for decoration of glass products. Sales revenue was $61 [£44] million in 2019 and represented 15% of overall sales at Verescence.
“Our business in the USA is focused on sales in the United States” stated Mario Lopez, General Manager of Verescence North America. “Born in the Glass Valley in France, Verescence has been able to deploy its glassmaking know-how across the Atlantic from 1996, with the construction of a glass manufacturing site in Covington, Georgia” explained Mr Lopez. “In 2002, we built a second factory in Sparta, Georgia, dedicated to decoration to provide better service to our customers."
“Verescence North America is the unique prestige glass manufacturer for beauty in the USA, sourcing bottles and jars for fragrance, skin care and make-up with large and innovative in-house decoration capabilities in spray, silk screening, hot stamping, pad printing, gluing, labelling, acid etching, and assembling” continued Mr Lopez. “Our glassmaking business for luxury perfumery and cosmetics requires the development of specific tools and machines that are unique in the world. It is a niche market for glass industry suppliers and we seek strategic partnerships with the leaders of each specialty to co-innovate and co-develop specific equipment adapted to our activity.”
The company supplies “all major beauty players in the USA” such as Estée Lauder, Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, Revlon, L’Oréal, Interparfums and Mary Kay, as well as several indie brands, added Mr Lopez.
An engineer with a M.S. in industrial engineering and an Advanced Management Program from the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain, Mr Lopez has held a number of executive positions in the glass industry over the past two decades, including Production Manager at Saint-Gobain (1998–2007), Plant Manager at SGD Group (2007–2010), and General Manager – Spain at Verescence (2010–2019). In 2019 he became General Manager of Verescence North America.
Located along Technology Drive, the plant in Covington commenced operations in 1996. According to Verescence, 250 employees work in the 11,658m2 building. The Newton County (Georgia) Office of Economic Development noted that the Verescence plant in Covington is one of the ten largest employers in that community. The facility includes one furnace (rated at 90tpd) using oxy-combustion glass melting technology and four glass production lines with an annual manufacturing capacity of 100 million bottles. “We include Blow & Blow, Press & Blow, Back Press; Feeder colouration; and Thermoluster [creating an iridescent/rainbow effect on the glass] options at Covington” stated Mr Lopez. “Bottero of Italy and Tiama of France both provided equipment used at the Covington facility.”
Environmental protections and sustainability are critical to the operations at the Covington plant, where a new (reconstructed) furnace was inaugurated on 3 June 2019. “We reconstructed the furnace in 2019 with reduced energy consumption (reducing gas consumption by 10%) as well as greenhouse gas emissions” Mr Lopez recounts. “These reductions not only involved enhanced furnace technology, but also affected the type of glass produced that has an impact on greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why Verescence Covington will fully dedicate its furnace to the production of glass with 20% post-consumer recycled glass sourced locally. The furnace will be operational to produce recycled glass at the end of 2021. This year, we are also studying the de-carbonisation of our electricity as well as modifying water piping to use recycled water for cullet cooling. The local cluster dynamic enabled the integration this year of 80% of the bare glass sorting business.”
Recent investments by Verescence in its Covington facility include “more than $400,000 [£289,000] to adapt the furnace to the production of recycled glass in 2020–2021” said Mr Lopez. “We also modernised the entire production area (hot and cold end) in 2019, by making numerous improvements both in terms of technology (latest generation IS machines [and] new automatic control machines) and in working conditions. In addition, we also reconstructed the furnace in June 2019 to increase it from 75 to 90 tonnes. This 15 ton increase resulted in a 25% increase in capacity.”
Operations in Sparta
Verescence opened its facility in Sparta in 2002. According to the firm, 220 employees work in the 8,361m2 building; the site has the capacity to decorate 90 million glass bottles annually. Among the services available at the Sparta facility are acid etching, gluing, hot stamping, labelling, lacquering, laser engraving, pad printing and silk screening. Investments at the Sparta plant include a new hot-stamping line in 2020, new generation control cameras and increased use of 3D printers.
Mr Lopez noted a number of sustainability and environmental efforts at the Sparta facility, including ending the use of solvent-based paints (and reducing associated VOC emissions) in 2019; the recycling of non-decorated scrap glass; and using variable-speed compressors to reduce energy consumption during non-peak production periods by reducing air requirements. The use of a closed water system for the water curtain and collection of overspray (excess sprayed lacquer) “eliminates the need for continuous use of water in the lacquering process, whilst the use of closed circuit treatment system for zero discharge into the environment in the acid-etching process” explained Mr Lopez. “A partnership to promote the establishment of one of our lacquer suppliers in the United States allowed us to source 98.3% of our decoration raw materials within the southeastern part of the USA.” In its Sustainability Report Verescence claimed that “The production of our decoration tools on 3D printers in the United States has made it possible to replace the majority of imports from Europe for this category.”
Corporate Social Responsibility
Verescence is proud of its corporate social responsibility efforts and its adherence to high operational standards. In 2020, Verescence North America received the Platinum medal from EcoVadis, the highest level of recognition that distinguishes the top 1% of the world’s most advanced companies in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility. “Both American factories comply with the highest international standards: ISO 9001 (Quality), ISO 22716 (GMP Cosmetics), ISO 14001 (Environment), and ISO 45001 (Safety)” said Mr Lopez.
“Whilst Europe is a champion of recycling with efficient recycling channels and strong governments policies, less than 33% of glass bottles are recycled in the USA; the rest goes to the landfill” he observed. “At Verescence, we consider glass as a renewable resource,” Mr Lopez continued. “Our factories recycle all scrap glass and we have been a pioneer in recycled glass for Perfumery and Cosmetics with our Verre Infini (‘infinite glass’) that was launched in France in 2008. We will be the first major company to propose post-consumer recycled glass worldwide for the beauty industry in 2021, with our 20% PCR glass manufactured in the USA starting Q4 2021. We anticipate the same at all Verescence sites. We also make it a point of honour to ban the development of a decoration technique that could hinder the recyclability of glass. In this way, we hope to contribute positively to the increase of glass recycling.”
“During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Verescence North America operated between 70 and 75% of its business” reported Mr Lopez. “Due to the executive order of the State of Georgia, we had to shut down our activities for a period of 30 days in April 2020. However, our glass melting teams remained active to maintain our furnace as well as our logistics teams to supply our customers still in activity.”
The Pandemic has “strongly impacted travel retail with major impact on fragrance” stated Mr Lopez. “Business has been impacted by lower demand in fragrance (down about 30%), partly offset by increasing needs for glass in skin care and make-up.”
“Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic will still have an impact on our business during Q1 2021, we expect sustainability consciousness to move more items to glass, mostly in skin care, and the demand for more local sourcing to generate growth” said Mr Lopez. “We anticipate that growth in 2021 will catch back with growth to be at the level of 2019 with several new customers in our portfolio. We have the ambition to stay on course for our ‘Verescence 2022 – Forming the Future’ project.”
According to the firm, this strategic plan aims to make Verescence the global reference in the sustainable beauty industry and is structured around sustainability in five ‘pillars’: People First; Customer Excellence; Competitiveness; One Verescence; and New Territories.
The project is supported by a planned €122 million investment to improve industrial performance focusing on automation and digitisation, acceleration of innovation and corporate social responsibility objectives.
In addition, Verescence is continuing its workforce development efforts in the USA.
“Georgia Piedmont Technical College is proud to work with Verescence to provide workforce training through our Georgia Apprenticeship Program” stated Dr Irvin Clark, Vice President of Economic Development at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. “Working closely with Verescence, our regional manufacturing industry partners, and the Industrial Development Authority of Newton County, we have developed Georgia’s first and only US Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship programme that includes both Rockwell Automation and Georgia Piedmont Technical College curriculum. The apprenticeship program, which is competency-based, is three years in length and is facilitated in a hybrid format with classes taking place virtually and at Georgia Piedmont Technical College Advanced Manufacturing Center in Newton County.”
These workforce efforts along with the investments made in new equipment during recent years and future enhancements planned by Verescence North America indicate that the two plants in the State of Georgia will continue to play key roles in the global glass business.
Verre Infini is a registered trademark of Verescence
Image: Verescence inaugurated the new furnace at its Covington plant in the USA on 3 June 2019. (Photograph produced by Brian David Barnard and provided courtesy of Verescence.)