Posted: 10 months ago

2022: The International Year of Glass

Pause for a moment and take a look around you. We’ll give you a minute to really look. What did you notice about the items in your proximity? Did you see how much of your surroundings include glass? From the screen you’re reading this blog on to the glass of water on your desk, the light bulb in the lamp, and of course, the windows letting the beautiful outdoor light into your home or office, we are surrounded by glass.

And yet, we barely notice it.

But this great material (and yes, we may be a bit biased) plays an enormous role in our lives, has done so for millennia, and will continue to play in the advancement of human society.

For this reason, the United Nations nominated 2022 as the International Year of Glass, the first time the UN has conferred such a designation to a specific material. 

“From the visible to the hidden, glass supports vital technologies, enables sustainability, and enriches our lives,” says Michael Saroka, CEO of Goldray Glass. “From fiber optics, vaccine containers, art and sculpture, and of course, protecting us from the elements, glass is an unsung hero of society.”

Led by the International Commission on Glass, the Community of Glass Associations, and the International Council of Museums-Glass, work started on the application to the UN in 2018. With support from 1500 universities and research centers, societies and associations, museums, artists, educators, manufacturers, and companies in 78 countries, the International Year of Glass became a reality through UN Resolution L84  on May 18, 2021. 

For Saroka, who grew up in the glass industry, the designation aligns with his journey of working his way up through Goldray Glass to become a leader and innovator in the industry.

“I’ve been touching glass and playing with it for a long time, and I have a healthy respect for glass. But even working on the research and development side and looking at everything Goldray can do, I’m always amazed at the new things we can do with glass and how we can push it as a material.”

Saroka points out that we are at a point now where sustainability and climate change are top of mind worldwide. Unlike plastics that can wear down or wood that has to be regrown, glass is infinitely recyclable and doesn’t degrade as you use it. All of this fits in with the UN’s goals in their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Additionally, we can use glass for innumerable purposes, manipulated and shaped into whatever form is needed, and is critical in various settings and environments.

“The whole concept of buildings is to protect ourselves from the elements, but we want to be outside, and we need sunlight and fresh air,” says Saroka. “Glass gives us a way to be safe and secure, but still gives us the benefits of nature that humans need.”

The designation from the UN is not just a name. Several events are happening throughout the year, including the Inaugural Conference in early February and the International Congress on Glass in Berlin in early July.

Goldray also has plans to celebrate the International Year of Glass throughout 2022.

“We are planning to celebrate the year, showcasing the work that we do and demonstrating the capabilities of glass from our point of view. We’re hoping to do some cool things with the year so people get as excited about it as we are.”

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