On the Spot… Vitaliano Torno

In an exclusive interview, Glass Worldwide spoke to Vitaliano Torno, O-I Glass’ President of Business Operations, about the strategic priorities of the world’s largest glass container manufacturer. In line with the strategic vision of the company, leveraging O-I’s global scale and capabilities, and driving collaboration and knowledge-sharing, he is responsible for delivering business performance across the company’s global operations.

On the Spot… Vitaliano Torno

GW: Having invested significantly in Europe in recent times to strengthen O-I capabilities and market leadership, what is the current status of that initiative?

We made a number of investments into our plants to upgrade them with the latest technology, increase capacity, and further improve the sustainability of our operations. Investments into the Gironcourt plant in 2020 but also more recently Sevilla and Nove Sedlo are testament to that. And just recently, we announced the plan to invest more than €60 million into the plants in Puy-Guillaume and Vayres in France.

In Puy-Guillaume, the plant, which is also celebrating its 120th anniversary this year, will increase its production capacity, its flexibility and its energy efficiency. The project includes the complete renewal of one of the two furnaces and of one of the attached production lines with new industrial equipment.

In Vayres, the site will be equipped with the new GOAT (Gas Oxy Advanced Technology), which uses oxygen to reduce our CO2 emissions by 20% and our NOx emissions by 60%. The new GOAT furnace will also be equipped with a system recovering energy from the furnace to heat raw materials. By investing in new, more efficient and less carbon-intensive production units, we are positioning the glassmaking profession well into the future.

GW: What are the solutions for addressing aging workforces and recruitment challenges in the glass industry?

First, we are doing more and more to promote the sustainability of glass. In the current environment, working in a sustainable industry is highly attractive. In addition, a few years back O-I defined its employer value proposition: what does it mean to work for O-I, and what are we offering to employees around the world? We are actively using this concept at job fairs and in the talent acquisition process, for example. Beyond that, we are significantly increasing our efforts in the areas of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. O-I is an equal-opportunity employer without any bias. We are also constantly adapting our benefits to ensure they remain attractive [to the] changing preferences of our employees. And lastly, we are increasingly focusing on core strategic work internally, while leveraging third party experts and automation where possible and appropriate. This elevates many of the job profiles we are looking for, and in fact can make it easier to recruit.

GW: Moving forward, how would you summarise the investment strategy across your production operations?

We are closely monitoring consumer trends as well as supply and demand. If there are new and additional business opportunities to add extra capacity due to increasing demand for glass, for example, we are ready to look at that. We have ambitious goals and are working hard to pursue them, but it can also be a challenging time to invest at the moment – it’s not just a matter of investing capital, it’s also a matter of availability of equipment, for example.

GW: Are your partnerships and alliances with technology suppliers such as Bucher Emhart Glass, SORG and Tiama assisting with overcoming those present investment challenges?

It’s an advantage of working very closely together with highly experienced suppliers that operate globally. They are not only experts with their technology, but they also know their supply chain and deliveries well enough to find solutions in times of a shortage of vessels, for example. We have had to manage the pandemic and that came with insights and learnings on so many levels.

GW: Having recently achieved external recognition, where does O-I’s sustainability strategy sit in the plan?

For O-I, sustainability is a journey not a destination. We are continuously examining our global footprint for areas of potential improvement. And this includes our approach to sustainability itself. In 2020, O-I refreshed [its] sustainability strategy to better represent our ambitions. This included the appointment of Randy Burns as our first Chief Sustainability Officer. [see Glass Worldwide January/February 2021, p.S8]

Through the appointment of a CSO, we have built a global network across our company footprint to unify and coordinate our sustainability vision—to be the most innovative, sustainable, and chosen supplier of brand-building packaging solutions.

We are focused on creating efficiencies in our melting and refining processes through gas-oxy furnaces, innovative reuse of furnace waste heat, and more efficient electrically powered equipment. We are committed to increasing recycled content – developing closed loop networks to keep recycled glass in the manufacturing stream and out of landfills. But, at the same time, we are working to transform the future of glassmaking through our Modular Advanced Glass Manufacturing Asset (MAGMA) which will revolutionise the container glass manufacturing process.

So, while these recognitions are demonstrating that our sustainable vision has made tangible progress, our journey is one of innovation and transformation that will continuously balance our products and operations with the needs of society and the planet.

GW: Ahead of MAGMA or other initiatives revolutionising the glass melting process, what are O-I’s current preferred furnace technologies?

We are currently building a number of oxy-fuel furnaces. While not the final glass melting solution, they are a highly pragmatic and sustainable solution for what we need to act upon today before we start bringing our MAGMA technology on stream.

GW: What was the reason for the recent sales of the Cristar and Le Parfait tableware businesses as part of O-I’s Ongoing Portfolio Optimisation Programme?

These transactions are examples of O-I’s strategy to focus on our core business of manufacturing and selling glass containers, and create value for all our stakeholders. We see significant and attractive expansion opportunities based on, for example, O-I’s revolutionary MAGMA innovation, and we will use the proceeds from these sales to fund the expansion. Cristar and Le Parfait were successful and profitable businesses… but in the end they are tableware and not our core container glass businesses.

Further Information: 

web: www.o-i.com


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