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Are we really serious about the planet?


I have recently researched and written an article for a national magazine about whether it’s time to make a concerted move into cans and/or cardboard (fruit juice type) containers for everyday early drinking wines (not vintage ageing worthy wines) which constitute the vast majority of the wines drunk weekly here in the UK.
Bulk transporting and English bottling of wines is now very well established (I only wish it was clearer on labelling) but is partially negated by the fact that, having arrived here, the wine is then placed into glass bottles.
We have a pretty poor record of recycling in the UK and much of that which is recycled cannot be re-used for its initial purpose anyway.
So my questions are.
Why are we so intransigent when asked to accept inexpensive, everyday wines in anything other than glass? Why when cans are far more recyclable than glass aren’t we happy to drink wine from a can? Who would be happy to purchase wine in a container similar to that containing orange juice?
After all, our much beloved glass pint of milk bottle has been mostly replaced by plastic!
So why aren’t we wine lovers really serious about saving the planet?


great topic and one I have seen a few articles on recently

For me, is about the longevity of the product - orange juice, milk etc are all gone in a few days from purchase whereas wine…I will have some that are approaching 100 years old, being of an engineering bent, I know that plastic or aluminium cans wouldn’t last (and I am worried about aluminium leach)

For short life (drink within the season wines I will buy BIB or pouch. Have only just started to see cans and will use them in the right place.

If you are in MK and its of interest, you should speak to a lady called Sharon Ghouila of Green steps Consulting - she’s looking at making companies more environmentally aware (but in an informed way and not as knee-jerk to media)


@JamesF the problem with BIB wines are that they are not good value for money. Their original sales tenet was that they could be “kept” in or out of the fridge without spoiling and they never caught on because of the value thing.
What I would like to see is a 100cl can or box sold for a similar if not slightly less price than the current average bottle price. More space for advertising/information about the contents and easier to store, transport etc.
Obviously, I’m talking about those wines (currently in excess of 70% of those purchased through supermarkets weekly) that are consumed between regular shopping trips.


for clarification, what do you mean by good value for money - quality of the product vs £ paid? value is a subjective word so what I may consider good value for money others may not. if you are on about £/volume, then I thought they were comparable to bottled wine …but haven’t looked in a while, i must admit.

The 100cl proposal is a good one - a weeks consumption for two adults ? but as a retailer, why would i sell 33% extra of a product for similar or less money? Glass is relatively cheap, good supply chain and we know is widely recycled. A 1lt metal can (screw cap I assume) would work well and (for whites) would sit well in a fridge. Box (like a juice carton)- here is the ongoing problem…my understanding is, that it depends what they are lined with and if the materials can be separated for re-cycling else its just waste (and people see it as this too and don’t readily re-cycle them even if there council accept them). Plastic ? Made from renewable PET and placed in a controlled recycling loop then it should be ok (all those bottom shelf ‘wine lake’ wines in continental supermarkets)

More space - the advert is traditionally the label so I doubt there would be much difference in customer recognition but agree on space for info on the contents (some producers / retailers are great at this, others abide by the spirit of the law)


I didn’t realise glass was “evil” can someone educate me. I know we all hate plastic now but that is about as far as my awareness goes


…its relatively heavy, round bottles mean a lot of wasted space in transportation


An incredible amount of recycled glass cannot be reused for drinks use but finds it’s way into aggregate for road building, whereas the common conception is the former. Glass recycling is also not very carbon efficient or green.


Exactly. And I’m sure others will remember, as I do, when all beer bottles, and a good proportion of wine bottles, had those tell-tale “ground glass” rings at the top & bottom of the bottle, showing that they had been returned, cleaned and refilled, possibly many times.


I suppose the question to be asked is - “is space in transport at a premium?”. Bearing in mind we are talking about transporting a heavy liquid. Maximum transportable weight may be a limiting factor.

Just off the top of my head -

  1. I think plastic (PET) bottles are limited to about 6 months storage due to oxygen transmissibility.

  2. Aluminium may be possible as a container, but for long-term storage you would need assured long-term inert internal lacquering, which I suspect may not yet exist. The containers would need to contain more aluminium than drinks cans, which owe their integrity to internal pressurisation. Canning would also be an issue - would it need flash pasteurisation?

  3. Glass needs thirty times less energy to produce than aluminium per unit weight and is a lot less polluting in production.

  4. Both materials are regularly recycled but you would need to know the realistic recycling figures for both materials (which I can’t find immediately). You would also need to know the relative energy costs and pollution potential for recycling those two materials.


is space transport at a premium? not particularly its more about not shipping fresh air around the globe in a container / lorry and maximise kg of product shipped per kg of fuel burnt to do so. Shipping wine in a Flexi bag in a 20ft iso or a bulk liquids tankiare certainly the most effective and bottling/packing close to consumer - but there are lots against this.

Aluminium cans - the lacquers now exist (strangely similar to the on the inside of some Petrochem drums providing resistance to acids).

Pasteurisation - my go to on such matters, “understanding wine tech.” by David Bird states most bottling as only classed as ‘hygienic’ and only ‘cardboard brick’ type is conducted in a ‘sterile’ environment. But flash pasteurisation looks an option as the liquid is heated & cooled before it meets the packaging…but not used for many wines - only those with a risk of issues from yeast in the packaging


That’s certainly an excellent argument for bulk shipping, though I was thinking more of the last leg by road transport to retail/customer.

Good to hear that the lacquer is available (assuming it passes longer term organoleptic tests).

The flash pasteurisation thing may not suit all wines of course - especially the “unfined and unfiltered” end of things. But realistically, if radical new packaging is going to make headway, it needs to do so for the 90% (or whatever it is) of wines that are shifted in volume and turn over rapidly. It’s quite possible that glass may remain the package of choice for the rest. Interesting discussion!


Thought provoking topic.

Fortune posted an article on canned vs bottled just yesterday.

I wonder what other alternatives there are that I could lay down now to enjoy, uncontaminated, a few decades from now.