Weighing in on Wine… Is your bottle too heavy?

Part 2 to “Is that a ‘Green’ Grape”, HTM Student Katherine Peloso talks about another way wineries can move towards a more sustainable future.

For centuries wine has been viewed as a prestigious drink for the “hoity toity” aristocrats–the good stuff any way–and high quality wineries have insisted on bottling their wines in heavier, more substantial bottles. Why? For better potential storing, ageing and overall quality of the wine? Perhaps, but times are changing. Studies now show that the weight of the wine bottle has nothing to do with these factors, but is merely an added feature designed to attribute some form of false value to the wine itself. Nowadays, it’s more difficult to find someone who doesn’t enjoy drinking wine, and to be honest, the vast majority of these consumers will tell you that it’s what’s inside the bottle that really counts!

Heavy wine bottles are guilty for many reasons: they contribute to increased transportation costs, more waste to be recycled, higher manufacturing costs, and increased carbon dioxide emissions. In New Zealand, just the glass of the wine bottle makes up over 40% of its “life cycle carbon footprint”, which includes manufacturing, production, bottling, shipping and consuming. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) in the UK, states that the average wine bottle weighs approximately 500g, with a total range between 300g and 900g. According to a bottle manufacturer in the UK, for each gram of glass bottle produced, about 0.6g of CO2 is emitted. This means that if an empty wine bottle weighs about 550g, 330g of CO2 will be generated for each glass wine bottle manufactured. http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/spotlight-environment-and-wine.asp

However there are small but significant changes being made. For instance, this past summer in Ontario, the Liquor Control Board (LCBO) stated that by January 1st 2013, they will no longer stock wine bottles over 420g for wines that are $15 and under. Although the weight alteration is quite minimal per bottle, going any lighter could easily increase damage and breakage costs for wineries. This 16% difference will not only influence the Ontario wineries that distribute to the LCBO, but all the international wineries that ship to Ontario that will now need to alter their bottle weights! Don’t you just love it when the government makes a stand on sustainable issues! Come 2013, we might actually see some noticeable progress!

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