Pernod Ricard has responded to ongoing challenges around the cost, availability and carbon footprint of glass by investing in a hydrogen-powered furnace to produce its Absolut Vodka bottles.

The company has signed a deal with packaging supplier Ardagh Group to use its partially hydrogen-fired furnace from the second half of next year. A fifth of the furnace’s energy comes from “green gas” that is produced onsite using renewable electricity.

Pernod said the investment is the first of its kind by a global spirits company and will reduce the carbon footprint of Absolut from glass by 20%.

The wine-and-spirits group has also joined Glass Futures, a non-for-profit research and technology organisation that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of glass globally.

Pernod Ricard’s chief sustainability officer, Vanessa Wright, said the two “partnerships … are key to accelerating our sustainability journey”.

Overall, the Beefeater gin owner has a target of halving the “intensity of our overall carbon footprint by 2030 and following a net zero by 2050 trajectory”.

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Bo Nilsson, Ardagh Glass’ managing director, added: “Our industry needs to be less reliant on fossil fuels and transition at pace to using more green energy. By investing in this new technology, we are embarking on a journey to reduce the carbon footprint of our glass packaging. There are challenges with such innovation but we are committed to being an early mover in futureproofing our glass manufacturing operations worldwide.”

The cost of glass is just one of many raw materials to have increased in the last 12 to 18 months, as a result of the spiraling cost of energy. Speaking to Just Drinks last month, William Grant & Sons’ US president Paul Basford said there was a “worldwide glass shortage” due to soaring production costs for the material.

Earlier this year, the founder of EcoSpirits, a Singapore-based re-useable glass container manufacturer, told Just Drinks that “even big brands with multi-year global contracts” were struggling to secure supply, adding companies were approaching them as a result of the crisis.

Why trio of deals could mark significant shift for Pernod Ricard in North America