The company cites market conditions as the motivation for its decision. | Screenshot of Google Streetview

Glass manufacturer O-I recently announced it will shutter its 79-year-old bottle factory in Waco, Texas, leaving a “significant void” in the regional recovered-glass market.

The company on Sept. 21 disclosed that executives have opted to close the plant around Oct. 16, a move that will affect 300 employees. The plant, which has three furnaces, uses some amount of recovered bottle cullet. 

The decision means the end of local drop-off collections through a program called Glass4Good, which was run in conjunction with the nonprofit group Keep Waco Beautiful. 

“This plant’s closure, which has been a vital partner in our recycling efforts, leaves a significant void in our glass recycling initiatives that we are actively trying to fill,” the group wrote on its website

In its disclosure, O-I said it expects to record a $60 million charge associated with the closure of the plant, including $32 million in impairment of assets such as furnaces and machinery and $28 million from employee separation benefits and other costs related to the closing. 

“The Company remains strongly focused on optimizing the overall efficiency of, and investments in, its regional plant network, and the decision to close the Waco plant is consistent with the Company’s previously communicated initiatives to improve performance across its operations,” the disclosure stated. 

The mill, which was opened in 1944 and is one of the glass manufacturer’s oldest, has undergone starts and stops in recent years. In late 2019 the company idled one of the three furnaces there, but it restarted the furnace in late 2020 as beer and liquor sales rebounded.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reported the company earlier this year laid off dozens of employees in Waco, citing lingering damage to a furnace caused by the February 2021 freeze and power crisis in Texas. 

For its part, Keep Waco Beautiful said it’s “actively collaborating with various organizations, including the City of Waco, to explore alternative solutions for glass recycling in our community.”

Beer sales have been on the decline nationally, affecting manufacturers of beer bottles. O-I has shut down assets elsewhere, citing the market conditions. The company has laid off much of its workforce at its Portland, Ore. bottle factory, citing a decline in regional wine market sales, according to the Northwest Labor Press. 

More stories about glass