Scottish glass factory to benefit from £500m investment windfall

A Scottish factory which manufactures whisky bottles is to benefit from part of a £500 million global investment by its US owners.

US-based O-I is one of the world's leading glass manufacturers.

O-I Glass, which is one of the world's largest container manufacturers, said its Alloa site will see the installation of two production lines based on its new “Magma” glass melting technology.

The company said the development will “reinvent how glass containers are made” and will enable its production capacity to be more flexible and scalable.

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“Through the installation of Magma lines, O-I will have the ability to more quickly add capacity in smaller increments closer to customers,” it said.

The Alloa site, which employs more than 500 people, has a 260-year-old history of glassmaking and manufactures millions of bottles for whisky and other drinks each year.

The company said the global investment programme could add up to 700 thousand tons of extra glass packaging capacity.

Andres Lopez, chief executive of O-I Glass, said: “This new capability will enable the company to grow in existing markets and enter new markets with greater flexibility. Magma represents a major leap forward that will accelerate our company’s transformation.”

The investment will see three new sites developed in the US and Brazil and expansion of its facility in Peru.

The company said the investment aims to help it capitalise on growth in premium products in Latin America and in the fast growing and high value premium spirits category in the US and UK.

“It will enable the company to grow in existing markets and enter new markets with greater flexibility,” added Lopez.

In 2014 O-I, which used to be known as Owens-Illinois, spent £230m upgrading its operations across Europe including the Alloa site.

The investment in Scotland included a £3.9m grant from Scottish Enterprise.

I-O employs more than 25,000 people across 72 plants in 20 countries. It achieved revenues of $6.1 billion (£4.4bn) in 2020.

Industry body British Glass has recently called on the UK government to take urgent action over the energy price crisis to ensure that manufacturers are not left behind their international competitors.

“The sector has seen a substantial increase in the cost of energy, which has already impacted profitability and could also lead to consequences in the day-to-day production of the sector if these costs continue,” it said.

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