WRAP proves lightweight wine bottles are better for the environment

14 March, 2008

A study has proved that bottling wine in lightweight bottles can significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air.

The report by the Waste & Resources Action Programme compared the impact on the environment of four different types of bottles that were filled in the UK with wine shipped from Australia. It found that wine bottled in a lightweight bottle with a high recycled content produces 167 grammes less of CO2 than a regular bottle.

Emissions were measured from the point at which empty flexitanks were transported to the winery in Australia and filled, to the time the bottles were taken home from the store. Emissions created in the production of the wine were excluded from the study.

Results showed that a lightweight glass bottle (365g) made with 92 per cent of recycled material created 356 grammes of CO2 whereas a regular weight bottle (496g) made with 81 per cent recycled content created 523 grammes. A lightweight bottle made with 81 per cent recycled content created 453 grammes.

PET bottles weighing 54g were also included in the study, but despite being the lightest container, the manufacturing process of the bottle meant that the carbon emissions created were just 7 grammes less than the lightweight bottle with 81 per cent recycled content.

Richard Swannell, director of retail and organics programmes at WRAP, said: “This is an important piece of work that demonstrates the positive environmental impact of lightweighting and the incorporation of recycled content. It will help inform the wine, packaging and retail industries on the environmental impact of their packaging choices.”

Swannell said the results showed there were “clear environmental gains” to be made by considering the impact of material choices, but said they would need to be measured against other factors to help the wine industry make their overall decision.

“Ultimately, the final decisions by producers will also depend upon numerous variables including what the supply chain requires, product storage and shelf life requirements, recyclability and consumer preferences,” he said.

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