Waitrose replaces small glass wine bottles with cans in bid to cut carbon

Image: Waitrose

The supermarket chain, owned by the John Lewis Partnership, announced the change this week. Customers will begin seeing the wine lines in the new packaging from Sunday (15 January).

A total of 19 small wine lines are set to be housed in aluminium cans rather than glass bottles. Waitrose claims that the move will reduce the weight of its wine packaging used annually by 320 tonnes, while also reducing carbon emissions across the value chain.

As the cans are lighter than the bottles, transport emissions are set to be reduced. Emissions reductions are also expected in the upstream value chain. Waitrose’s own life cycle analyses have concluded that an aluminium can will create less than half the amount of CO2e across its lifecycle than equivalent glass bottles.

The new cans can be recycled in with household mixed recycling collections. Aluminium is regarded as an infinitely recyclable material; unlike plastics, the quality of the material does not decrease when it is mechanically recycled.

For these environmental reasons, and for reasons relating to cost and convenience, Waitrose has already moved to canned formats for products including craft beers and cocktails.

Waitrose’s beer, wine and spirit bulk sourcing manager Barry Dick said he hopes the move in the wine aisle will “encourage suppliers to continue to develop a diverse and exciting range of wines in cans”.

Waitrose is notably working towards a 2035 net-zero target for its entire value chain. The John Lewis Partnership moved its 2050 target  forward by 15 years back in October 2020. It subsequently joined the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign. John Lewis Partnership is planning to set verified science-based climate targets covering emissions from all scopes, including Scope 3 (indirect) emissions in the supply chain, in the coming months.

Tackling vape waste

The news on the wine packaging comes shortly after Waitrose announced a decision to end sales of single-use vaping products. The retailer had already implemented a ban on sales of single-use vape pens but built upon this by delisting imitation cigarettes.

Waitrose said in a statement that it was concerned about the appeal of single-use vapes to young consumers and about the environmental impact of the products, which contain plastic and lithium and are often littered. Previous research from Material Focus revealed that at least 1.3 million disposable vapes are thrown away in the UK every week – equivalent to two every second. Recycling systems do not yet exist for these products.

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