Glass cullet outside O-I's Portland facility.

 O-I expects to install pollution control equipment at its Portland, Ore. bottle factory by April 2024. | Jared Paben/Resource Recycling, Inc.

Owens-Illinois will install pollution reduction equipment as part of a deal to keep operating its Portland, Ore. glass bottle factory. Meanwhile, the Quebec government will help O-I fund upgrades at its Montreal plant.

The facilities play key roles in state and provincial bottle deposit programs.

Pacific Northwest project

O-I will install $11 million in pollution reduction equipment as part of a deal with regulators to continue operating O-I’s Portland, Ore. bottle recycling plant.

Last fall, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reached a settlement with the glass bottle manufacturer through which O-I agreed to either install air filtration equipment or permanently shut down its furnace, which melts cullet from glass bottles.

The deal came after DEQ fined O-I in June 2021, alleging particulate matter in air emissions exceeded limits.

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) recently reported O-I has decided to install filtration equipment, which will not only meet the state’s requirements for reducing particulate levels but will also reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, even though those gasses were not part of DEQ’s enforcement action.

OPB reported the company expects the equipment installation to be completed by April 2024. The Portland Tribune reported the company submitted its application for the equipment to DEQ, which will conduct a public input process before deciding whether to issue permits for installation.

The bottle recycling plant is crucial to Oregon’s bottle deposit program, which sends its sorted glass to the plant for recycling into new bottles. But the facility is also located near lower-income neighborhoods that already face air pollution from the transportation sector. These areas have relatively high proportions of racial and ethnic minorities, raising environmental justice concerns among regulators and others.

More public money flows to O-I Canada

The Quebec government has provided more money to help O-I Canada upgrade a bottle plant in Montreal.

Earlier this year, the Canadian government provided a loan of 3.5 million Canadian dollars to O-I Canada to help it upgrade its Montreal bottle factory so it could take in more cullet.

More recently, on June 28, the government of Quebec announced it would provide a separate loan of over 19 million Canadian dollars and a grant of 2 million Canadian dollars to O-I Canada. The funds are intended to bolster an equipment installation project, estimated to cost 70 million Canadian dollars, at the Montreal plant.

The project, which includes repairing a furnace and acquiring three molding machines, comes as the province prepares to expand its container deposit program next year to include additional types of drinks, including wine and liquor, which are often sold in glass bottles.

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