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Bulk wine importing and lighter bottles benefiting the environment

CO2 emissions have been cut by over 28,000 tonnes a year – equivalent to taking more than 8,500 cars off the road – as a result of WRAP’s GlassRite Wine initiative.

The reduction in emissions has been achieved through more bulk importing of wine and the use of lighter bottles by those involved in the project, which is funded by the Waste & Resources Action Programme. Glass bottles now being filled with bulk imported wine in the UK each year have increased by 79 million to 199 million as a result of the project and and to date more than 350 different wines have been lightweighted.

Nicola Jenkin, WRAP’s beverages category manager, said, ‘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. In addition, bulking importing is becoming a more mainstream alternative to bottling at source.’

She added that, ‘Sustainable business practices do not have to compromise 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.’

Companies involved in the first phase of GlassRite Wine include major retailers, such as Asda, The Co-op, Morrisons and Tesco, and wine producers and brand owners, such as Constellation Europe, which has reduced the carbon footprint of its Echo Falls and Stowells wines as a result of the project.

Nicola told ThirtyFifty that during the next phase WRAP ‘really wants to tackle brands. Besides Constellation Europe, who’ve been very good, there’s a lot of work to do there,’ she said.

Also planned is looking at the feasibility of lighter-weight champagne and sparkling-wine bottles. Champagne bottles are among the heaviest, weighing on average 900g, which makes them almost 400g heavier than an average still-wine bottle, according to WRAP. Traditionally, the reason for this was that the bottles needed to withstand significant internal pressures, since the champagne-manufacturing process involves the fermentation taking place in the bottle. However, currently some French in-bottle-fermentation wines are being put in bottles with weights between 750-800g, while some European sparkling wines are being safely filled in bottles weighing 650-700g. This would indicate that bottles filled this way could be reduced in weight by about 20% without jeopardising bottle strength, believes WRAP.

Nicola said that they would be looking at running trials with appropriate brands or working with the Champagne region to see what the barriers are to lightweighting and how WRAP can help them overcome them.

GlassRite’s second phase will also develop and trial a sub-300g wine bottle and install a network of people in the main wine-producing countries who will act as spokespeople for WRAP’s work and encourage and enable companies to adopt more carbon-friendly methods.