How a Moldovan glass producer benefitted from EBRD’s FINTECC green tech transfer scheme

By Malina Gont

Green technology improves business for Moldova’s largest producer of glass bottles

The Moldovan glass producer received a loan of €7.5 million through FINTECC

Right in the heart of Moldova, a country famous for its wine culture, Boris Crivoi’s story started more than 20 years ago.

Crivoi had an eye for business and, as the local wine market was developing, he thought: “Where there’s wine, there will always be a need for bottles.” He was right.

As Crivoi needed finance for his business idea – manufacturing glass bottles  – he reached out to the EBRD for finance. In 1995, in the Moldavian capital, Chisinau, the Glass Container Company (GCC) was established.

GCC rapidly became one of the largest producers of glass bottles in the country. It manufactures bottles for wine, sparkling wine, olive oil and beer. The company cooperates with almost all Moldovan wine producers and with international beer brands such as Efes, Stella Artois and Tuborg. Its annual capacity is 50,000 tonnes, the equivalent of 100 million glass bottles.

Over the years, business flourished, but as the company expanded and began to look more and more towards new export markets, it needed a better, more efficient and cheaper production process. With this in mind, Crivoi looked to the EBRD for support once again.

In 2016, through the Bank’s Finance and Technology Transfer Centre for Climate Change (FINTECC) programme, which in Moldova is supported by the Global Environment Facility, the Moldovan glass producer received a loan of €7.5 million and an additional grant of €386,000 to finance the modernisation of the GCC factory and help improve the quality of the bottles it produced. At the same time, FINTECC technical support provided significant savings in energy and materials for the company.

Guidelines for technical improvements

As a first step, FINTECC delivered a comprehensive energy audit of the GCC production process, with the final report offering major guidelines and a list of recommendations for improvements. The audit revealed that the company needed to completely reconstruct its melting furnace and replace two 20-year old machines on its production lines.

One recommendation has already been successfully realised. Among the key raw materials in the production of glass is broken recycled glass, also known as cullet. When added to a batch of glass, cullet allows the material to reach melting point at a lower temperature and thus reduces the consumption of gas. “Every 10 per cent replacement of a batch by cullet leads to a net 2-3 per cent saving in gas consumption,” says Crivoi. “That is an important saving for our company, which consumes about 12 million m3 of gas per year.”

Innovative technology reduces carbon footprint

Yet the biggest innovation will be the installation of narrow neck press and blow (NNPB) technology, which allows the manufacturer to control and reduce the thickness of bottles and reduce their weight by up to 30 per cent.

“With the new technology our bottles will become lighter and we will consume 20 to 30 per cent less energy. That is a direct positive impact on the environment and it means more business for us: this way, we can transport, say, 30,000 bottles instead of 26,000,” says Crivoi. Lower weight also translates into better prices for consumers.

GCC will be the first company to use the NNPB technology in Moldova and will serve the local market with lightweight glass, which is currently being imported. This will lead to fuel savings and will help to reduce the firm’s carbon footprint in Moldova, the world’s 20th-largest wine-producing country.

Economic and social benefits

In its early years, GCC exported 80 per cent of its products to countries of the former Soviet Union. But today, 80 per cent of its exports go to EU countries. With the new technology and modernised glass production process, the company, which currently has 300 employees, plans to expand its client base by 30 per cent.