THE Managing Director of a Fermanagh glass factory will be part of a delegation next week at the ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

Adrian Curry, of Encirc, will be in attendance at the conference as part of his role with Glass Futures, where he is a board member.

Encirc operates three factories, including a factory in Derrylin, Elton, and Italy.

Mr. Curry believes that Encirc as a company can be carbon-neutral. He said: “We are working with customers to see what their needs are; we are absolutely convinced we can do it.

“But it’s going to take investment, it's going to take innovation, and it's going to take government policy to change to support new fuels such as hydrogen.

"It is a big challenge, but we’re actually very positive that we can be one of the first to adopt these new technologies and decarbonise.”

Speaking about attending the conference, Mr. Curry said: “COP26 is big in the news and the company are doing quite a lot. We have a lot of initiatives running to decarbonise our business and, indeed, our industry for that matter, so we are looking forward to getting over.

“We have a lot of interest from customers; some of our bigger customers such as Diageo would be well represented there [at COP26], and then Glass Future and British Glass [are represented too].

"UK Research and Innovation will also be represented, and there is going to be a video shown on their stand which includes Encirc and some of the initiatives we have been doing.”

Speaking about the steps Encirc have taken to move toward decarbonisation, including a world-first in recycling materials within their sector that is taking place in Derrylin, Mr. Curry said: “In January, we did a trial in Derrylin where we ran a furnace on 100 per cent biofuel, and we used 100 per cent recycled material in the bottles that were made.

"This was really right up there [in terms of being more environmentally-friendly]; no other glass manufacture in the world has ever done that.

“It has been so successful that we have had customers asking can we repeat it.

"We are now looking at a regular campaign in the Derrylin plant to use biofuel for periods of time to produce our glass. There is no one else doing that globally.”

Other initiatives include using fuel from HVO (vegetable oil fuel) to run trucks, with a test pilot due to commence in the coming weeks with the aim to run all trucks on HVO, in future.

Looking to the future of glass production and cutting down on the use of natural gas, Mr. Curry continued: “We are looking at how anaerobic digestion produces biomethane [fuel derived from organic waste] and how we would use the biomethane in the plant to replace natural gas.

“We are already using biomethane on the site to run our Combined Heat and Power Generation Station, and that is very successful and replacing about 20 per cent of our electricity [demands].”

The opportunities for similar initiatives are here in Fermanagh, said Mr. Curry: “We could look at something locally to produce biomethane [from slurry and manure from farmers] in Fermanagh, and we could actually look to other parts of Northern Ireland. The gas could be fitted into the natural gas network."

Referencing global warming, Mr. Curry added: “We all have to work hard to look at [keeping any global temperature rise restricted to] 1.5 degrees [Celsius], because that is the key measure, going forward.

"If the planet heats up more than 1.5C, it's going to cause all sorts of devastation right across the globe.”