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FCM Chemicals sectors and intermediate materials – Part 4

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Ceramics and enamel

Ceramics are inorganic and non-metallic materials used to produce such items as bricks, and tiles and, as FCMs, in particular tableware, such as plates, dishes, cups, bowls, and jugs. Ceramics are generally made from mixtures of clay, earthen elements, powders and water shaped into desired forms. Once the ceramic has been shaped, it is fired at high temperature in a kiln, and decorative, waterproof, paint-like substances known as glazes are often subsequently applied.

Vitreous and porcelain enamels are used as the coating on steel/cast-iron articles in order to prevent corrosion of the metal underneath and to provide a closed, abrasion-resistant and physiologically safe surface that is perfectly fit to come into contact with foodstuffs. The main vitreous enameled articles that are used as FCMs are cookware and baking trays in kitchen ovens.

The European Ceramic Industry Association (Cerame-Unie) represents the European ceramic sectors, including the ceramic tableware and ornamental ware sector and the porcelain enamel sector. Its members and associate members are both federations of national associations and direct members and are established in 30 European countries, including 26 EU MSs. It is estimated that there are around 2 000 ceramic companies in the EU across eight sectors covered by Cerame-Unie. The distribution of the size of enterprises indicates a large proportion of SMEs (80 %), as reported in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Approximate distribution of different types of enterprises represented by Cerame-Unie for ceramicware

Figure 1: Approximate distribution of different types of enterprises represented by Cerame-Unie for ceramicware

Cerame-Unie website reports that the annual production value of the ceramics industry is around EUR 28 billion, accounting for approximately 25 % of global production and over 200 000 direct jobs in the EU. The major producing MSs in the EU (in decreasing statistical order, from Pira) are Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy and France for tableware and ornamental ware. Other MSs such as Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Spain, and Finland also have strong ceramic sectors. The proportion of tableware and ornamental ware in the ceramics market was reported at 6 % in a 2008 study published by the European Commission (FWC Sector Competitiveness Studies — Competitiveness of the Ceramics Sector. Within the Framework of Contract of Sectoral Competitiveness Studies — ENTR/06/054. Final report, 13 October 2008). 23), equivalent to EUR 1.8 billion. The same report also noted that a significant proportion of tableware and ornamental ware is from imports (60 %), particularly relatively low-value ‘everyday’ tableware, predominantly from China. Pira estimates the EU value in 2013 of ceramic and porcelain tableware and kitchenware to be EUR 915 million, and the split of large, medium-sized and small enterprises is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Approximate sales of enterprises supplying porcelain and ceramic FCM kitchenware. Total sales estimated at EUR 915 million (source: Pira, 2013)

Figure 2: Approximate sales of enterprises supplying porcelain and ceramic FCM kitchenware. Total sales estimated at EUR 915 million (source: Pira, 2013)

The EU ceramic industry is export-oriented, with 30 % of its production sold outside of the EU market. It was noted that the market had changed in the last decade with the rise of low-cost products from new competitors in emerging and developing countries (Brazil, China, India, and the United Arab Emirates). No additional information related to trade details on FCM was received.

The European Enamel Authority (EEA) is a European federation under Cerame-Unie bringing together nine EU national associations, along with those from Ukraine and Turkey, dealing with ‘porcelain and vitreous enamel’ industrial articles and representing 150 European companies. Although there are no national associations in some countries such as Spain and Portugal, there is nevertheless a significant presence of porcelain enamel businesses.

The EEA could only provide incomplete trade data due to disparate membership (e.g. missing data from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Turkey). It reported that 75 % of the annual consumption of porcelain enamel is used by enterprises that are members of the EEA. In terms of distribution, 45 % of the members are large companies, 30 % are medium-sized and 25 % are small. The sum of the turnover for porcelain enamel-related materials/articles in the member countries of the EEA (excluding the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine) is EUR 164 billion, with large, medium-sized and small enterprises accounting for 23 %, 22 % and 55 %, respectively, of the annual turnover. About 43 % of the amount of enamel is used for FCM.


Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid that is often transparent. The principal raw material used in the production of glass is silica, with alkalis, stabilisers, refining agents and small quantities of other additives used to give specific characteristics. Chemically speaking, soda-lime glass is most relevant for FCMs, having excellent light transmission properties with tensile and thermal performances, and is used in tableware, glass packaging, flat glass and some special glasses. Lead crystal, which has a high density and a high refractive index and is used in crystal tableware, is also relevant.

The main category of glassware used as FCM is glass containers and tableware articles. The glass is delivered in small, defined quantities (generally gobs) to be shaped into glass articles, for instance, bottles and drinkware. Bottles are supplied to packers to be filled and drinkware is sold to be used by consumers to drink beverages.

Flat glass is a specific case, as the use of flat glass for food applications is extremely limited (less than 0.5 % of flat glass production taking into account all other applications). This limited number of articles includes cutting boards, decorative serving plates, tables, countertops and fridge shelves.

The glass industry within the EU is diverse, both in the products made and the manufacturing techniques employed. The glass sector is represented by Glass Alliance Europe (GAE)

and is composed of five main European sectors of glass industries:

  • Fédération Européenne du Verre d’Emballage (FEVE) (container glass) ;
  • Glass for Europe (flat glass);
  • European Domestic Glass (EDG) (domestic glass);
  • European Special Glass Association (ESGA) (special glass);
  • Glass Fibre Europe — European Glass Fibre Producers Association (APFE) (glass fibre).

Of these, FEVE (glass packaging and tableware) is the most relevant for FCMs. GAE also comprises 14 national glass associations. Several additional countries are represented via one or the other sectorial associations. For example, FEVE member companies cover, directly or indirectly, almost all of the MSs of the EU.

The suppliers of raw materials used as intermediates according to the REACH definition for the glass sector are producers of minerals and certain chemicals. These raw materials and the cullet (recycled glass) are melted and react together at high temperature (> 1400 °C) to produce glass, a new substance, the starting material in the sense of the Regulation (EC) No 2023/2006 on GMP.

The turnover in volumes is available from various commercial sources but is difficult to compare. According to Europen, the total amount of glass packaging (i.e. both food and non-food) placed on the market in 2011 was 16 170 000 tonnes, a value that was similar to each of the previous years back to 2005, albeit showing a minor decline. Most of this contribution is from the MSs in the EU prior to 2004. Euromonitor data (in millions of units sold) suggests a slightly larger decline, from 172 420 million to 161 426 million units sold in 2011, and subsequently down to 155 182 million in 2015, which is comparable with the 155 732 million units sold in 2013.

Data on turnover expressed in values are available both from commercial sources and as estimates from GAE. According to the Eurostat Prodcom database, the glass sector, including transformation of flat glass products and insulating glass fibres, represented an annual turnover of EUR 36.75 billion in 2011. GAE reported similarly that the total glass market represents a volume of approximately 31 million tonnes and a turnover of approximately EUR 36 billion. GAE estimates that it can be assumed that two thirds (approximately) of glass production in the EU is concerned by FCM legislation, meaning approximately EUR 20-24 billion. This does not necessarily equate to sales of glass for FCM. Alternatively, figures from Pira for 2013, which report a total value of EUR 7 157 billion in sales for glass packaging for FCMs, may be an underestimation as they do not include kitchenware and tableware.

Data on the number of units sold from Euromonitor, on the volumes in terms of thousands of tonnes from Europen and on sales from Pira illustrate that the main EU MSs are Germany (production volume of 45 222 million units sold and EUR 1 299 million sales in 2013), France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain (all in the range of 12 000-16 000 million units sold and EUR 700-1 300 million sales) as shown in Figure 3 (distribution in terms of sales also represent the same trends).

Figure 3: Approximate distribution of volumes for FCM glass across EU MSs for which data was available

Figure 3: Approximate distribution of volumes for FCM glass across EU MSs for which data was available

GAE stated that the glass industry includes a range of enterprises across the EU, from SMEs to large enterprises, although no precise data are available. In some sectors, such as flat glass or container glass, large enterprises represent the vast majority of the glass industry. Pira data from 2013 on FCM glass packaging indeed indicate that large enterprises constitute 68.5 % of manufacturer sales, medium-sized enterprises 18.9 % and small enterprises 12.6 % (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Approximate sales of producers of glass FCM. Total sales c.EUR 7 157 million (source: Pira, 2013).

Figure 4: Approximate sales of producers of glass FCM. Total sales c.EUR 7 157 million (source: Pira, 2013).

GAE indicated that there are higher percentages of SMEs in several other subsectors, such as domestic glass (crystal glass) and flat glass transformers (which include some FCM applications for housewares).



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