Each year, the United Nations (U.N.) designates specific periods as markers for events or topics, in order to promote the organization’s objectives. Established by the U.N.’s general assembly, observances range from days, to years and even decades. 2015 was the Year of Light and Light-based Technologies; 2019 was the Year of the Periodic Table and Indigenous Languages. Now, a cohort of glass-related organizations is petitioning for 2022 to be the Year of Glass.

“The broader vision of a United Nations International Year of Glass 2022 (IYoG2022) is to celebrate the history, current state, and future of the most transformative material in the history of humankind,” the cohort says.

Fronted by organizations such as the International Commission on Glass (ICG), the Community of Glass Associations (CGA) and the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Glass, promoters aim to link the qualities of glass to several U.N. initiatives. An International Year of Glass would “underline the scientific and economic importance of glass in developing and improving the performance of the key technologies, which can help us face the challenges of a sustainable society,” promoters say. The material can “facilitate the emergence of more developed, just, and sustainable societies to meet the challenges of globalization,” they add.

In their proposal to the U.N., glass related organizations say the material is environmentally friendly, because it’s made from “safe, readily available raw materials,” such as sand, soda ash and limestone. The material can also be reused any number of times, they point out, and the industry is working toward more efficient methods for recycling. Through lower melting points, the goal is for manufacturing to eventually become carbon-neutral, they say.

Regarding why 2022 is the year to consider, promoters point to several related industry milestones, including the 70th anniversary of a patent secured by Pilkington, which they say heralded the process for float glass production, forever changing the industry. “In the last century, float glass has come to dominate our architectural skyline and solar panels take a major role in the energy market, while in the art world it has transcended its classification as a craft material, becoming integrated into the fine arts,” the cohort says. “Glass has proven to be one of the most important materials enabling the development of contemporary human civilization,” they add. “This enduring effect of glass on modern society has led some to propose that we are now living in The Glass Age.”

Based on worldwide enthusiasm, “a U.N. Year of Glass is indeed feasible,” says Alicia Durán, chair of the steering committee for an International Year of Glass and president of the International Commission on Glass. “A U.N.-endorsed Year of Glass would truly be a worthy celebration of glass as the most transformative material in the history of humankind and would signal the Dawn of the Glass Age.”

The group has made progress in convincing the U.N. of its suggestion, Durán says. They’re asking for members of the glass and glass-related industries to take up their cause by submitting endorsements. In addition to general praise for the idea, key information to provide in endorsement letters includes how organizations might gain from and support related initiatives, and specific goals that the designation might help to achieve. Other suggestions include linking personal initiatives to the U.N.’s collection of Sustainable Development Goals.

Altogether, more than 1,100 letters of endorsement have been sent from 74 countries and every continent, the group reports.

More information on endorsement letters can be found HERE.