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How Green is the Wine Society?

Why doesn’t the Society advertise its excellent service of collecting and reusing wine boxes?
Why doesn’t the Society have a page on the website to say what it has done and what it will do to be more green? Majestic wine does this. It is not enough to do good things on the quiet when our public image does matter.
I sent a letter to the Wine Society 10 days ago and have not received a reply, so please add your voice.
Many thanks, George

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I’m perfectly capable of recycling my own rubbish and would not think
too kindly to having someone else’s boxes delivering my wine. Our local authority has a very efficient cardboard weekly recycling system. Take this issue up with yours instead. TWS isn’t your dustman.


@George_Blair Firstly, welcome to the community! Generally we’re a friendly bunch…

Reading your question again it seems clear to me that you’re not actually asking TWS to be your dustman, but rather why TWS doesn’t advocate its green credentials a little better?

The topic of collecting, recycling and/or reusing TWS boxes has cropped up here before, and my memory of the response from TWS (and @Kelly or @laura may correct me) is that while the delivery drivers are happy to take boxes, they generally get put into recycling by TWS rather than reused.

As for their other green efforts, I’ll let others comment.


Hello !

I would already expect TWS to be working to something like UN sustainability or https://www.intertek.com/sustainability/ - but agree they are well behind the curve on any real "impact pages’ on the website…not sure if its been raised at AGMs before?

We know they take the “green” matter seriously through implementation of such things as; renewable energy (solar Pv) and Electric Vehicles…but that’s only a part of the topic and so much more that can be done in all areas from production to waster recycling in the whole supply and customer chain.

I agree with @AnaGramWords ( I know!!) that we should be responsible for our own recycling - but we do live in a very good area for that with weekly collections of waste and recycling (even green waste next week!) - the process of returning items can actually be a bigger impact than the action of recycling.

I would wait a little longer for a reply - in todays WFH culture and on a subject such as this a little longer would not be inappropriate


I’m very sorry to sound so put out by the idea of expecting TWS to take back items that have been ordered by oneself but I suppose taking responsibility is a generation thing.
Surely an extension of this would be the ability to return ones bottles too, why not in fact?
The answer is it simply does not make sense. TWS shouldn’t be expected to take anything back other than misdeliveries or bottles where there might be quality control issues to investigate.
I have a near neighbour who persists on putting cardboard recycling out the day before collection, rain or shine. I’m surprised the recycling operatives (dustmen) don’t throw it back over his hedge sopping wet! Common sense!


I sometimes give wine boxes back to TWS, because they are difficult to use for anything else. My understanding was that TWS would re-use them, but if that is not the case then yes, I will put them in my own recycling. Can anyone here say for sure what happens to returned boxes?

I think that this years AGM will give some notice as to how the Society approaches it’s responsibility to be greener!
By making last years AGM a virtual one, we became far more inclusive, allowed members who live outwith the London catchment area to participate and even vote. And there might have even been a Covid - 19 dividend!!
But by far the BIGGEST GREEN upside was all of those plane, train, car, taxi and even bus rides that were not required. Also hotel stays etc. Add that lot together and it has some meaning.
I know that it was even uncomfortable for our senior management, but that is the cost of doing business in the 21 century, as technology has made this possible. :+1: :dragon:

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Thanks @Alchemist and welcome @George_Blair!
From what I understand, our own drivers are happy to collect empty TWS boxes when making deliveries or collections, although this is more of a courtesy rather than a service. I’ll try and get un update for you all on whether the boxes are reused or not :slight_smile:

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Last I tried to return TWS boxes to Stevenage for reuse, as I have done for many yeaars, I was told they were not accepting boxes any more. I presume this is a result of the pandemic.

They did ask members to remove address labels etc and my understanding was that boxes would be reused. I would have no problem with receiving my wines in a pre-used box.

TWS wine boxes are very robust and could be reused thus saving TWS some money. They are a pain tho’, to take apart to flatten for recycling.

@AnaGramWords - I put out cardboard for recycling the evening before collection. We’ve been told to have all items out ready for 7am, and I’m not getting out of bed before 7am to put out recycling.

Sometimes they don’t arrive till midday so any cardboard put out even at 06:55 when it is raining will be wet by the time the operatives arrive. I don’t see anyway around it.

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I know it’s a problem Peter. Here, you’re not allowed to put them out the night before (although many do) as we only use plastic sacks and not wheelie Bins, which are evidently on the way. Personally, I’d sooner get up and put them out at 7am (as I do) than have to litter pick where the bloody birds have pecked hades out of the sacks. Obviously rain on collection day is a bummer!

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We’ve been advised that the empty boxes collected by TWS drivers get reused for Showroom orders (pre-pandemic) or put straight into the recycling depending on the condition of the box. Our staff use new boxes for Member deliveries due to the possible poor structural integrity of the box after it has gone out and come back. Hopefully this is helpful for you all to know!


Oh, yes the birds and foxes rip plastic bags and scatter stuff everywhere. Thankfully they gave us wheelie bins a couple of years ago and a large caddy for kitchen waste.

@Kelly - I’m not clear, are you saying that TWS delivery drivers will still collect boxes? Or should get have been got?

The level of BioFilm that must be present on wine bottles that have been through generally agricultural production,then through warehousing reboxing, opening in uncontrolled environments, placed back into boxes, sent back in said boxes/cases, opened then you want to send me more wine back in these used boxes/cases. Sounds like a recipe for … Make mine fresh please.

As an amusing aside, the society used to take bottles back and an old list from 1914 had instructions on how to do this with this rather lovely (???) additional comment: “Members are specially requested to instruct their servants accordingly when returning cases.” (My highlighting)


Sorry @peterm, I didn’t see your earlier point that your driver didn’t take your boxes back with him. I’ll try and get confirmation on that as well and let you know!

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Having had to dispose of numerous cardboard boxes after my move, using a box cutter shows you can get an awful lot in the green bin if you want to and they don’t get wet that way, or else take them to the local supermarket recycling site, ours takes everything.
The big stuff of course is picked up for recycling by the removal company.

We have three wheelie bins for: Garden waste; Tins, plastics and bottles; non-recyclables.

For paper & cardboard we have a small plastic box. That’s filled with a fortnights’ newspapers. I put cardboard wrappers, Amazon and egg boxes and loo roll inners etc in an old wine box placed on top of the box, and larger cardboard flattened under the plastic box to shelter them and stop them blowing away.

A wheelie bin for paper & cardboard would be great!


In Cornwall we don’t have wheelie bins for general waste. We use black bags, seagull proof bags can be bought from the council. We put out rubbish the night before and cover the bags in an old sheet which “touch wood” seems to stop any scavenging.

One of the benefits of living in a remote area. We have just one wheelie bin for recycling which takes paper, cardboard, tin cans and plastic. However bottles we have to take to a bottle bank ourselves (not a problem as I just take them when I go to the supermarket) and garden waste either goes to the tip (or for me my compost heap).

Cardboard Boxes: SURELY its ‘greener’ to recycle them locally via the council, than truck them maybe hundreds of miles to Stevenage… then recycle? - I see no point whatsoever in the extra cardboard/ miles (and extra cost if via a 3rd party courier).

Bottles: Same, but more so because they are heavy so extra glass/ miles & cost.

RE-using cardboard boxes. Interesting, in theory… but the existing packing cases are not designed to be re-used. Would require a redesign to enable repeated folding flat & opening out & treated to make more durable. I have never seen such a packing case however it’s possible - but might double the unit cost. Worth investigating - its DEFINITELY the future.

TWS advertising green credentials.: I’m getting tired of virtue signalling - who reads it in anyway? & quite frankly the HUGE elephant in the room is the import of (heavy) wines from the other side of the world. No amount of cardboard recycling will offset the wine miles.

So - and correct me if I’m wrong - the MAJOR green issue (importing wine) cannot be addressed.