Wine industry takes greener outlook

Posted by Isobel Drake on 26th May 2008

A groundbreaking industry program, called GlassRite Wine, has enabled the UK to substantially cut their CO2 emissions within the wine industry.

The project, funded by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), has shown that bulk importing of wine into the UK and the use of lighter weight bottles can lead to major environmental and business benefits for the wine industry.

The first phase of GlassRite Wine ran from Summer 2006 to March 2008, managed by British Glass, and involved an impressive list of UK retailers, major international wine brands, producers and agents, fillers and glass manufacturers. As a direct result of the initiative:

– CO2 emissions have reportedly been cut by over 28,000 tonnes per year (equivalent to taking 8,500 cars off the road) as a combined result of bulk importing and use of lighter bottles.

– 199 million 75cl glass bottles are now filled with bulk imported wine each year in the UK instead of being bottled at source – an increase of 79 million glass bottles.

– The use of recycled glass has increased by nearly 24,000 tonnes per year, because (as a consequence of more bulk imported wine) more wine bottles are being made in the UK.

– Glass packaging has been reduced by 11,400 tonnes per year as a result of wine being bottled in lighter weight bottles.

– More than 350 different wine label bottles have been lightweighted during the project.

Nicola Jenkin, WRAP’s beverages category manager, believes that the project has proven very successful. “This project has helped to kick-start a major change in the wine industry. In the past two years, lighter weight bottles have become a more regular feature on UK supermarket shelves,” she said. “In addition, bulk importing is becoming a more mainstream alternative to bottling at source.”

“GlassRite Wine has worked with the industry to illustrate that sustainable business practices do not have to compromise commercial values or quality. For example modern bulk importing methods mean wine is less susceptible to the temperature variations that could impair quality, while lighter weight bottles are often stronger than their heavier counterparts.”

More than 10 initiatives were undertaken during the first phase, and it involved major UK retailers like Asda, Morrisons and Tesco; wine producers and brand owners such as Constellation Europe; glass manufacturers such as Quinn Glass; wine fillers such as Kingsland Wine & Spirits and logistics specialists such as Trans Ocean Distribution.

Tesco category technical manager for Beers, Wines and Spirits, Andy Gale, has indicated Tesco’s strong support of the program. “Glass is by far the heaviest component of our packaging waste and we believe we can make a substantial contribution to our target by reducing the weight of these containers,” he claimed.

Following on from the successful initiation of GlassRite Phase I, WRAP will continue with a second phase of work, running until November 2009. This phase will continue to encourage the increased uptake of bulk importation of wine into the UK, where feasible and the use of lighter weight wine bottles. It will also develop and trial a sub-300g wine bottle and trial the production of lighter weight champagne and sparkling wine bottles.