Green Wine

No, this is not a St. Patrick’s Day joke. Green wine refers to the environmental impact of the wine industry.

Sustainability, carbon footprint and environmental issues are gaining in popularity in both the media and in political circles. It was only a matter of time before people starting linking them with wine production. In the wine industry some of the green issues include packaging waste, recycling, and plastics. These issues present both threats to the status quo and opportunities for producers that are able to innovate and become early adopters of green solutions.

Packaging waste in the wine industry includes bottles, corks and caps. In addition, pallets, boxes, shrink wrap and labels all clog up landfills. The first company that is able to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ this packaging material will cut their costs, and more importantly, they will be able to boast of a selling feature that will differentiate them from their competitors. Not surprisingly, the bulk of recycling in the wine industry has to do with the glass bottles. There are a number of alternative packaging solutions to glass: Liquid cartons, aluminum, plastics, bag-in-box or pouches. Currently glass makes up 97% of the British wine market. The advantage with glass (besides long tradition and great taste) is that it can be recycled many times and is strong. The major disadvantage is that it is heavy and therefore requires more energy in reprocessing and transportation. New technologies in glass production can produce a bottle that is 5-10% lighter but is actually stronger than traditional bottles.

Perhaps the best alternative to the weight of glass is plastics. Plastic is both strong and lightweight and is increasingly made of recycled content. A plastic wine bottle weighs just 54g as opposed to the standard glass bottle weight of 500g. The concern with plastics is questions on their ability to prevent wine degradation over time and, of course, the impact this will have on taste, but these issues are being addressed with new innovations and testing. It will be up to individual consumers that determine which innovations are the winners, and which vineyards will leap into the 21st Century.


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