Plans for a Glass Futures Global Centre of Excellence in glass research have received a further boost with a £15million investment from central government as part of UK Research and Innovation Transforming Foundation Industries Challenge.

The cash, along with funding from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, St Helens Borough Council and Glass Futures itself, will put £54million into the planned glass furnace R&D facility at St Helens, reviving the closed United Glass facility.

The plant will be capable of producing 30 tonnes of sustainable glass a day which will be used in products such as windows, doors, jars, bottles and glass fibre.

Richard Katz, director of the not-for-profit Glass Futures, said: “This £15m funding is an essential catalyst to kickstart the delivery of Glass Futures’ £54m Global Centre of Excellence in St Helens, an area rich in glass history.

“The state-of-the-art facility will enable Glass Futures and its members to work collaboratively to research and develop innovative solutions enhancing resource efficiency, moving the industry closer to sustainable low-carbon glass production and increasing productivity.

“With this grant, UKRI recognises the importance glass has to play in a future to be built on sustainable, fully recyclable, low-carbon products manufactured with highly efficient processes.”

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng added: “Merseyside has a long and rich history in glass manufacturing, and so I am pleased that this £54m investment – including £15m Government funding – will launch a new era in highly efficient, low-carbon glass production. 

“This new funding will build on our commitment to cut emissions across heavy industry, create green collar jobs on Merseyside and help us to build back greener.”

The Government’s £15 million investment will be used to buy specialist equipment to improve energy and resource efficiency, research alternative raw materials, and boost productivity and training.

Initial building design work for the factory has already commenced, funded by St Helens Borough Council. Following completion of the design and winning of planning approval, construction is planned to start in 2021.

Other contributors to the project include:

  • Alongside UKRI funding and the support of St Helens Borough Council, landowner and developer Network Space;
  • Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which is aiming to provide a further £9m for works to make the building suitable; and
  • Glass sector companies will contribute a further £20m of funding resulting in a total investment of £54m