Shifting to a Circular Economy: Lessons from Great Lakes Leaders O-I Glass & Clarios

For more information on the commitment to the circular economy in the Great Lakes, see our Circular Great Lakes Initiative. For the latest in responsible batteries and EVs, see ‘Electrifying Mobility in the Great Lakes Region.’

The Circular Economy is getting a lot of attention these days, but it’s nothing new to Clarios, the world’s leader in vehicular batteries and the closed-loop recycling behind it and O-I Glass, Inc. a world-leading glass container manufacturer and user of recycled glass. Both companies call the Great Lakes Region ‘home.’

On October 28, 2020, the Council of the Great Lakes Region hosted a virtual event “Shifting to a Circular Economy: Leaders and Lessons in the Binational Great Lakes Economic Region” featuring Adam Muellerweiss, Chief Sustainability Officer for Clarios, and Randy Burns, Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer for O-I Glass, Inc. Both companies have long-standing experience in circular, recycling practices.  Clarios is the world’s largest manufacturer—and recycler—of automotive batteries.  O-I Glass is a leading glass manufacturer—and driving demand for recycled glass to incorporate into their products.  These leaders shared their companies’ experience and offered lessons which can be applied to other industries in the Great Lakes—and beyond.

Adam Muellerweiss, Chief Sustainability Officer of Clarios, outlined the lessons learned by his company’s decades of closed-loop recycling of automotive batteries.

Randy Burns, Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer of O-I Glass gave the audience a ‘nudge’ toward the critical success factors that create a truly circular economy.

Approximately 60 leaders and influencers joined the virtual briefing to accelerate a shift to a circular economy in the Great Lakes Region, a region encompassing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, including the U.S. states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The group met in order to:

  • Share objectives, approaches, and ‘lessons learned’ from organizations who have long experience operating in a circular economy
  • Build and nurture a network of like-minded professionals, committed to sustainable business in the Great Lakes Region
  •  Identify barriers, challenges, potential approaches, connections, and appropriate points of collaboration to accelerate a shift to circularity in the region
  • Begin a series of dialogues that support, accelerate, and contribute to action for circular approaches in multiple material industries

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About the Speakers

Adam Muellerweiss joined Clarios in 2013.  As the company’s Chief Sustainability officer, he is responsible for the development and implementation of The Clarios Sustainability Blueprint and its five pillars: Value, Operational Excellence, Life-Cycle Stewardship, Transparency and Advocacy. The Sustainability Blueprint sets the vision for the world’s largest manufacturer and recycler of automotive batteries – enabling Clarios to build on its pioneering circular economy of batteries and identify opportunities for increasingly sustainable growth. Muellerweiss led the formation and serves as the president of the Responsible Battery Coalition — a coalition of retailers, automakers, academics and NGOs committed to the responsible management of the batteries of today and tomorrow. As a result of these efforts, Muellerweiss was named to the private sector’s Top 75 Environmental Leaders in 2018.

Randy Burns leads O-I’s Sustainability and Social Responsibility, Government and Public Affairs, and Corporate Communications strategy. His team is focused on advocating for glass packaging and elevating the sustainability of O-I and its products. Randy was appointed Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer in April of 2019 and previously was Vice President of Global Government Affairs and held senior roles in the legal department. Before joining O-I as an employee in 2017, Burns served O-I as outside counsel for 20 years and has more than 25 years of experience working at the intersection of advocacy, law, and policy.

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