Wine makers urged to use ‘green’ bottles

Thinner, lighter wine bottles could stop a huge amount of glass going to waste as well as making significant energy savings and reducing transport costs.

The Waste & Resources Action Programme is teaming up with British Glass in an effort to encourage importers, producers and retailers to ship their wine into the UK in bulk and then bottle it domestically using lightweight bottles.

At the moment the standard wine bottle weighs 500g but, according to WRAP, those weighing around 300g are already tried and tested and widely available.

Perhaps surprisingly the UK is the world’s biggest importer of wine, buying in over a billion litres a year.

The vast majority of this – around 80% – arrives in bottles but WRAP believes that importing in bulk and lightweighting of bottles could save around 20,000 tonnes of glass every year.

The organisation also claims that bulk importing could also save up to 40% in shipping costs as well as making significant reductions in fuel used, bringing further environmental benefits.

Historically Britain’s taste for imported wine has led to a ‘colour imbalance’ in the glass industry, with manufacturers producing huge amounts of clear glass for the UK but much less green glass, which means the market for recycled glass from wine bottles is limited.

Moving bottling to the UK would turn the market around, says WRAP, producing a steady domestic demand for recycled green glass.

A number of major retailers including Asda and Tesco have been persuaded to take part in commercial trials to look at the benefits of importing in bulk as well as identifying and potential obstacles.

Andy Dawe, Glass Technology Manager at WRAP, said: “Despite the concerns that some overseas suppliers may have, the UK bottling industry has plenty of capacity to both produce and fill bottles.

“Our research shows that an additional 10% switch will mean 55,000 tonnes less glass imported and a rise in demand for recycled green glass in the UK of 50,000 tonnes; a combined improvement of 105,000 tonnes per year.

“As well as tonnage benefits, this move will also improve the industry’s carbon emissions profile, whilst at the same time reducing business costs.”

Sam Bond

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