The UK is the world’s biggest importer of wine and over the past four years, GlassRite Wine has been carrying out a Government-funded project to look at ways to tackle the industry’s environmental impact.

The project has had a broad remit, looking at diverse issues such as how to increase domestic demand for recycled green glass – there’s not much call for it outside the drinks industry – to looking at ways of cutting down in emissions associated with global imports.

Developing lighter bottles that are still fit for purpose has been one strand of the initiative, saving over 27,000 tonnes of glass.

But the headline-grabbing plan has been that of shipping in wine by the vat, rather than bottled at source.

This has the double benefit of allowing the wine to be transported more efficiently, reducing emissions, while providing a use for all the glass that householders diligently recycle – the project this has led to almost 200 million bottles per year being filled in the UK.

The Government’s waste programme, WRAP, funded the project and says that there is still potential to do more in the area.

“We know from our previous projects that huge opportunities continue to exist to use more lighter weight bottles and increase the use of recycled content in UK- manufactured glass bottles by bulk importing wine into the country,” said WRAP’s drinks expert Nicola Jenkin.

“This is what will achieve a more resource efficient international wine supply chain.

“A particular highlight for the project has been the development of an innovative 300g screw cap bottle – the first in the world. This bottle is 40g lighter than the previous lightest bottle manufactured in the UK and is now being used by major UK supermarkets.

“If the bottle was adopted for all wine sold in the UK it would generate an annual glass saving of 153,000 tonnes – equivalent to the weight of more than 460 jumbo jets – and cut CO2 emissions by 119,000 tonnes.

“A lot of fantastic work is being done by the international wine sector with more and more brands adopting lighter weight bottles or bulk exporting.

“Building on this momentum is important to ensure the sector continues to improve its environmental impact and play a role in protecting its future during this period of climatic uncertainty.”

Sam Bond

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