2022 showed a slow progress in the activities. After the bad impact of the pandemic in 2021 on the market, the glass industry had to cope with huge energy costs that led to plants’ closures or temporary shutdowns in some sectors.  

Overall glass production reached a similar volume than in 2021, with 39.5 million tonnes produced, which indicates that the glass manufacturers suffered from the energy crisis on top of high competition from third countries.

The European production level maintains the EU as one of the largest glass producers in the world with China and North America. Germany remains the EU’s biggest producer with about one fifth of the volume, closely followed by Italy, France, UK, Spain and Poland.

Production Evolution until 2022


Regarding foreign trade from third countries, imports from Asian countries, and in particular China, remain big competitors.

Compared with 2021, 2022 extra EU-27 exports decreased by 4.6% in volume at 4.3million tonnes but increased by 14.9% in value with 9.5 bn Euros. The EU-27’s four major clients in volume are the rest of Europe (59.5%), including UK (20%), Switzerland (12%), Turkey (6.5%), Serbia (4%) and Russia (1.5%), followed by the USA (9.6%), North Africa (4.8%) and Far East Asia (5%) including China (1.9%). 

 As for extra-EU27, imports were rather stagnant in volume with a slight increase of 0.3% (5.5 million tonnes) in 2022 compared with 2021, while imports in value increased by 20% with9.2 bn euros. Far-East Asia accounted for 30% (including 23% from China alone), the rest of Europe for 56% (including UK (19.8%), Turkey (11.4%), Russia (5%), Switzerland (6.6%)), North Africa for 6.4%, United Arabic Emirates (1.5%) and the USA for 1.2%.

EU Glass Trade Evolution in 2022


Employment 2022

The number of employees remained stable in 2022 compared to 2021 with 181,500 people working in the glass sector (incl. processors). This level is however still lower than before the pre-Covid period, with 186,000 people employed in the glass industry in 2019.

 Employment Evolution and Productivity


Production by Sectors:   1) History      2) Details 2022

Behind these 2022 figures aggregated at the level of the whole glass industry, it is important to realize that the situations are contrasted in the different sectors. Evolutions in production and employment, as well as in the origin of imports into the EU, are very different between glass sectors. The global trend indicates however steadily increasing imports in all glass sectors with decreasing exports. Investment outside the European borders has materialised, and imports are gradually and insidiously increasing, taking bigger EU market shares in all glass sectors.



With tough market conditions, the energy crisis and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, competition remains intense with non-European glass manufacturers and consumer confidence to invest in glass is difficult to restore when energy costs are rocketing so high. In these circumstances, the recovery of the economy will remain very dependent from the implementation of the national recovery plans and of the EU state aid programmes to support the industry and promote a new industrial climate-friendly era.

The glass industry is investing a lot in new zero-emissions furnaces and is calling for a fair level playing field, with strict rules judiciously imposed to imported glass products that should comply as well with the numerous regulations applied to the EU industry (related to climate change, pollution control, recyclability, EU standards, protection of workers and good working conditions).

These data should not preclude that the glass market is now fully mature and would not grow anymore.

Glass still plays a key role as a material, helping to enable our green and digital transition and supporting our society in achieving long-term sustainability and prosperity.

  • Glass as a high-tech material vital to the energy performance, safety, security and comfort of our homes, offices, buildings and cars and is essential to make Europe fit for sustainable living.
  • Glass delivers on the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan to ensure that waste is prevented and used resources kept in the EU economy for as long as possible.
  • Glass commits to ensuring that greenhouse gas emissions from glass production drop substantially in the next decades. Decarbonisation is underway with new furnaces using electricity or hydrogen to progressively drop the use of fossil fuels.

 The glass industry has a long and rooted tradition in Europe, and we must work to ensure that it is able to continue operating in our continent at competitive conditions.