Wine makers claim elephantine sustainability success

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fermentation, Wine

A haul of glass equal in weight to 36,000 African elephants has been cut across the global wine supply chain as part of a new scheme to improve the environmental impact of the sector, claims one eco-organisation.

The Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a UK government-backed group designed to ensure the country meets EU waste requirements, suggests that its GlassRite scheme has managed to cut 20,000 tonnes of glass use from wine production globally.

The programme claims that wine manufacturers and suppliers involved in the scheme have not just improved their environmental performances, but also cost and supply chain efficiencies.

In a report into the impact of the GlassRite scheme since its inception in 2006, bulk importing of wines was also found to have increased so that the product can be packed in the UK.

“Bulk importation of wine to the UK has increased by over 90 million litres, which equates to 36 Olympic-sized swimming pools - with nearly 115 million glass bottles being filled in the UK,”​ state the findings.

Innovation aims

Nicola Jenkins, head of WRAP’s drink arm, claims growing enthusiasm for more sustainable wine production, packaging and distribution has led to increasingly innovative solutions worldwide.

“This [innovation] includes working with partners to develop a range of new initiatives, including trialling and producing a 300g commercially viable wine bottle in the UK [and] exploring opportunities for lighter weight Champagne and sparkling wine bottles,”​ she stated.

Jenkins says other examples of industry collaboration in the UK included forecasting the country’s capacity to bottle bilk-imported wine and producing a directory of lightweight wine bottles already available in the country.

Although primarily focused on UK commitments to wine manufacture, WRAP suggests there is strong potential for the wider wine industry by adapting similar commitments, aside from the various multinational groups already signed up to GlassRite.

UK potential

The programme says that the UK is already the largest importer in the world for wines, buying in about 1.6bn bottles each year according to the group’s figures.

Wrap suggests these purchases amount to 630,000 tonnes of glass coming into the country creating a major carbon dioxide (CO2) footprint during transportation.

In attempts to cut down on these impacts, efforts have been undertaken through the scheme to make use of lighter weight bottles and bulk importation of wine for bottling in the UK.

“Bulk importation in turn raises demand for glass bottles manufactured in the UK,”​ states WRAP. “In addition, UK’s widely-available supply of recycled green glass allows the supply chain to increase the amount of recycled content in these bottles, adding further environmental benefit.”

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