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C02 emissions similar for lightweight glass and PET bottles, shows study

Putting bulk-imported wine into lightweight glass wine bottles in the UK is broadly no less environmentally friendly than putting it into PET, according to a recent study.

The WRAP (Waste & Action Resources Programme) study, which looked at the carbon impact of bottling Australian wine in the UK in PET and glass, showed that lightweight glass wine bottles with a high recycled content produce around the same amount of C02 emissions as much lighter PET bottles.

Although lightweight glass bottles are more efficient in production than PET bottles, importing empty glass bottles from Europe is less efficient than transporting empty PET bottles within the UK. The PET bottle also makes some greenhouse-gas savings during UK wine distribution because of its low weight, but the distances involved are short so the extent of these savings is relatively low. In fact, road transport accounts for only a maximum of 9% of all emissions.

However, the fact that glass bottles can be produced with higher recycled content than PET means their impact compares favourably here. Also, systems for glass recycling are more sophisticated than for PET, so additional carbon savings are obtained for glass when end-of-life impacts are considered. End-of-life emissions are those caused through the fate of the bottles once they are disposed of by the consumer.

Whichever container is used, the major component of carbon emissions is still the bulk shipment of wine from Australia to the UK, the report found. The second most important factor is the manufacture of the bottle, while road transport is relatively insignificant. For heavier 496g glass bottles, emissions from manufacture are slightly more significant, at 49%, than those arising from bulk shipment (42%).