With the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) clarifying it has no evidence that wine contained in these bottles posed a health threat, Gallo Glass says the suggestion of safety issues "risks the future of the entire California wine industry".
The company is part of E. & J. Gallo Winery, which positions itself as the world’s largest family–owned winery and largest exporter of California wine.
Gallo Glass Company’s air emission controls captured raw materials from the glass manufacturing process as precipitate. The company recycled this precipitate/waste dust to make glass, replacing some of the virgin raw material.
But the California EPA's Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) claims the dust was ‘hazardous waste,’ and insists it must be managed and disposed of under Californian law.
The issue has come to a head after five years of discussions, and Gallo Glass Company says it looks forward to its day in court.
EPA alleges ‘potential' public health risk
DTSC last week announced it had filed a complaint against Gallo Glass Company, alleging the company used hazardous waste in the manufacturer of glass wine bottles.
The complaint alleges that the company illegally introduced dust containing lead, arsenic, cadmium and selenium into wine bottles made at its Modesto plant.
It continues to claim the practice did not comply with requirements for legitimate recycling, and that the dust should be properly managed and disposed of under Californian law. It adds the Gallo Glass Company stored large volumes of waste dust "in a manner that presented a potential risk to public health".
In May 2014, Gallo agreed to stop using waste dust in the manufacture of its bottles. But the DTSC wants Gallo to pay penalties, and for the court to prohibit the company from adding waste dust into its bottles in the future.
However, it clarifies that it has no evidence that wine in these bottles posed a health threat.
‘To suggest this is a safety concerns...risks future of California wine industry ' - Gallo Glass Company
Gallo Glass Company says the complaint is a "legal issue and not a health issue".
“The state makes it crystal clear that there is no threat from the bottles,” a spokesperson told BeverageDaily.com. “To suggest that this is a safety concern is irresponsible and risks the future of the entire California wine industry.”
The company prides itself on a state-of-the-art facility with advanced pollution control technology and environmentally-sustainable practices.
“For decades, our plant has been regularly inspected by a variety of agencies and not one agency has ever suggested that our sustainable use of precipitate in the glass-making process or our wastewater recycling system violated any law until the State started this enforcement action," the spokesperson said.
"Furthermore, both our air and water treatment plants are operating in accordance with the permits issued by other governmental agencies.
“Precipitate captured by our air emission controls is comprised of the same raw materials used to make glass so we use it instead of adding new raw materials. The use of precipitate in glass making is recognized throughout the world as the environmentally-sustainable best practice and its use in the glass making process eliminates the need to transport and dispose of it in landfills," they added.
“Yet, the State of California now wants to require us to discard the precipitate in a disposal site instead of productively using it – a position which is in direct conflict with California’s recycling goals and the State’s own exemptions from the Hazardous Waste Control Law," the spokesperson said.
“For more than five years we have been trying to resolve this matter but the State of California has refused to provide us with any proposals and instead unilaterally cut off negotiations deciding instead to sue us – a California-based manufacturer with a strong environmental record that provides more than 800 jobs in the Central Valley. We look forward to our day in court.”