Local efforts contribute to global results

27 July, 2007

Global warming is the hottest topic of the moment, and everybody

is talking about how we can cut our impact on the environment.

Emma Eversham looks at some simple ways in which off-licences can

make day-to-day dealings more environmentally friendly


The further products are transported to your shop from the supplier, the more carbon emissions delivery vehicles create, but there are ways to reduce them:

If there are good brewers or vineyards in the area where you

operate, buy stock directly from them to save "drink miles". A number of small and large retailers are already doing so. Waitrose sources beers from 85

small-scale breweries

across Britain, which are stocked only in stores in

the same region.

Ethical companies

Operating green practices in your store is all very well, but if the product you are stocking is bad for the environment, your valuable work could be done in vain:

Stock products from companies that have a proven track record for protecting the environment. Australian company Yalumba, for example, was given the 2007 Climate Protection Award by the US Environmental Protection Agency

for leadership and innovation. The company operates an energy-efficient winery with a water-waste management programme. It also has 135 acres of land set aside for conservation and more than 98 per cent of packaging is made from recyclable materials or is, itself, recyclable. In the UK, Suffolk brewer Adnams built an ecologically sound distribution centre in a disused gravel site. Its "living roof" is made of sedum plants that create natural insulation, and solar panels provide 80 per cent of the hot water needed there. Cider maker Westons has converted

2ha of meadow into an ecologically sensitive waste-water purification system, which has become a nature reserve as well as a means of irrigating orchards.

Stock wine from producers

who are part of the Biodiversity

& Wine Initiative

- a method

that respects the natural environment where the grapes are grown. Spier in South Africa is one example of a vineyard working towards environmental sustainability by restoring flora and fauna and clearing river corridors .

Glass bottles

Glass is a recyclable material, but it is also a heavy one and the production and

transportation of bottles from across the globe

create carbon dioxide emissions that could be reduced . According to

the Waste & Resources Action Programme, 2.5 million tonnes of glass are used in packaging in the UK every year, but reducing the weight of the average bottle by 10 per cent would generate savings of 250,000 tonnes. WRAP is funding lightweighting trials in

wine, beer and spirits , which it hopes to complete in 2008. In the meantime, there are ways retailers can help:

Stock beer that already comes in lightweight glass bottles. Suffolk brewer Adnams was given an award by WRAP for

cutting the weight of the glass in its bottles of ale by 34 per cent to 299g (previously 454), and Coors reduced the weight of its 30cl Grolsch bottles by

23 per cent. Steve Curzon, marketing director of Adnams, said: "The industry has really got to look at this very closely because glass is a heavy packaging substance. Consumers are going to pay more and more attention to what the carbon footprint is of the product they want to consume. The issue is

being picked up, and without doubt is going to become more and more widespread."

Stock wine that is bottled in the UK. According to WRAP's Bottling Wine in a Changing Climate study, if more winemakers bulk exported wine and bottled it here, more UK recycled glass

could be used to make the bottles and emissions would be reduced by 30 per cent. More research is being conducted , with Constellation, Tesco, Asda and Somerfield engaged in a series of commercial trials to look at the issues surrounding bulk importing and lightweighting, but many suppliers and buyers are still concerned it could damage the wine.

Stock wine in alternative packaging, such as the e-pak, a concept which is the

result of a collaboration between

The Company of Wine People and Palandri. This plastic pouch is reported

to have less of an impact on the environment than

glass does.

Green organisations

Global Action Plan

T: 0207 405 5633

W: globalactionplan.org.uk

Carbon Trust

T: 0800 085 2005

W: carbontrust.co.uk


T: 0808 100 2040

W: wrap.org.uk

Fridges and chiller cabinets

These inevitably use electricity, which in turn creates carbon emissions. It would be unrealistic for retailers not to use them, but there are ways to cut the amount of energy used to power them:

Install an E-cube in your store refrigeration unit. The small black box can save up to 25 per cent of the energy normally used because it makes the refrigerator's thermostat respond to the temperature of the products inside rather than the air temperature. Because products don't warm up as quickly as the surrounding air when the door is opened, the chiller doesn't need to work as hard to cool itself down again. For more details go to ecube-distribution.co.uk or call 0208 500 5033.

Get a night blind for open-fronted chillers. They pull down over the front of the fridge during non-trading hours to keep cool air in and cut electricity bills.

Heating and lighting

According to the Carbon Trust, the

retail sector emits over five million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year


but that could be cut by 20 per cent. Here are some ideas on how to cut emissions and save money:

Change light bulbs to energy efficient ones where possible. They

may cost more initially, but they use

a quarter of the energy of traditional bulbs and last 12 times longer.

Switch off lights in rooms and corridors that aren't being used. According to the Carbon Trust, this

can cut lighting costs by as much

as 15 per cent.

Keep windows clear

to make the most of

natural light so

you won't need to use lights during daylight hours.

Keep the heating thermostat at a constant level.

Heating costs rise

by 8 per cent every

time the temperature

is increased by just

one degree.

Plastic bags

An estimated 10 billion plastic bags are given to customers each year in the UK, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Producing them not only creates

carbon dioxide emissions, but the majority end up in landfills when they are thrown away.

WRAP has come to an agreement with retailers to reduce the impact of carrier bags on the environment by 25 per cent by 2008, an initiative

supported by the Association of Convenience Stores.

James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said: "Reducing customer bag use is win-win: it reduces the environmental impact of bags and reduces the significant costs that retailers incur in providing plastic bags. "

How to use fewer plastic bags:

Encourage customers to re-use

bags by giving them a discount off their next purchase each time they do, or by giving them reward points. At branches of Tanners wine merchants, for example, customers are given 5p off every purchase every time they re-use

one of their plastic bags.

Put empty cardboard boxes by the till for customers to use to carry multiple purchases home.

Introduce eco-friendly, re-usable

jute bags to customers for a small

cost. Companies such as jutebag.co.uk even sell bespoke wine bags that

carry wine bottles in a range of multiples.

Bookmark this

Site Search


Agreeing to disagree

Disagreeing about wine is a fact of wine-trade life, like drugs in sport or corruption in politics. Because taste is entirely subjective, debates about our personal preferences are as inevitable as they are interminable. Indeed, these long-winded, wine-fuelled arguments are precisely what make our jobs so much fun.

Click for more »
Upcoming events


Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know