Make wine green – report

The choices we make when it comes to transporting and packaging can have serious implications for the carbon footprint of the wine industry, according to a Government-backed organisation dedicated to addressing excessive use of resources.

With its relatively high levels of alcohol consumption and without a large-scale domestic industry to protect, the UK is Europe’s biggest importer of wine by some margin.

This means that even the slightest tweaks to the energy and resource demand of shipping in wines can make significant carbon savings.

WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) has published a report this week, Bottling Wine in a Changing Climate, which looks at the benefits that can be made by choosing to import wine in bulk rather than bottling at source, using light weight bottles and making use of the least damaging forms of transport when freighting the drink.

Bulk importing and transport by sea and train can lead to CO2 emissions 30-40% lower than if the wine were brought in in individual bottles by plane and lorry, says the report, and light-weight bottles can make savings of 30% when compared with their standard equivalent.

There are also implications for the UK’s glass recycling industry as the need for bottles would stimulate demand for under-used green glass.

Andy Dawe, WRAP’s glass technology manager, said: “This report is important because it allows importers to make informed decisions about cutting their emissions.

“By encouraging the industry to bulk import wine and bottle it here in the UK, we can reduce the amount of green glass entering our recycling systems and also increase the use of lighter weight bottles, which use less raw material and are better for the environment.”

He added: “As well as cutting glass waste, this approach also improves the industry’s carbon emissions profile, and saves money by reducing transport and energy costs.”

Wine is a subject close to WRAP’s heart – last year the organisation teamed up with British Glass to look at ways to make bottling less wasteful (see related story).

It was also involved in trials of light-weight whiskey bottles at Co-op supermarkets early this year (see related story).

Sam Bond

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