Real sustainability

Glass bottles account for 30% of WSUK carbon emissions. It’s widely agreed that reuse knocks spots off recycling for carbon reduction. Surely The Wine Society is uniquely placed to devise and operate a genuinely transformative, world-beating system of wine bottle re-use?

Could work with the society vans… maybe if all the society bottlings used the same bottle the amount returned would be worth doing

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I don’t think the Society bottles wine any more.

If Society own labels used identical bottle, the those bottles would need to be available in the producers own country and for re-use the empty bottles would need to be shipped back to producers. Labels would have to be removed, bottles cleaned.

Could work if Society wines were bulk shipped and bottled by society, but who would collect bottles from consumer. Most days it is a courier company that deliver TWS wines, and I cannot see them collecting and returning bottles.

And TWS stopped collecting their boxes some time ago, and when they did, did they re-use them? I think not.

Lastly, would recycling bottles add costs to the wines and give competitors a price advantage.

Plenty of other goods come in glass bottles - salad dressings, sauces, mustards, pickled onions etc.

PS _ I have no idea what WSUK is, how valid their figure of 30% is, or how much wine glass bottles is responsible for total carbon emissions.

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WSUK = Wine Society UK
The figure of 30% came from WSUK’s Director of Sustainability and Social Impact (Dom de Ville) writing in the current 1874 leaflet, on p19.
WSUK would not need to fill bottles, it could standardise bottle spec and arrange for empties to go back on transport which brings full bottles to Stevenage. It WILL happen, one day.

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Maybe not directly in Stevenage, but does the society import in bulk container & it’s then bottled & labeled in the UK ?

Perhaps we the TWS members should address the elephant in the room: The simplest, 100% effective and easiest solution to implement. We buy & drink less wine.

Exactly the same solution as asking ‘frequent air travellors’ to fly less. Or carnivores to eat less meat.

Scary… but it just might work. And if we cannot manage it voluntarily then our Government could tax imported wines into the ground.

Discuss ? :smiling_imp:


I live in an area where there is no SRV delivery so TWS is unlikely (I assume) to go down the route of carriers picking up empty bottles and returning to Stevenage. I imagine a large number of forumites recycle through their local councils anyway, so there is little to gain for them in such a scheme. Would TWS offer picking up one empty bottle, as per the delivery? Somehow I doubt it.

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I’m not sure if your suggestion was ironical, but I think it’s true.

There’s too much emphasis on becoming more green while continuing to maintain consumer activity.

So often, becoming green, actually involves buying more and more stuff. After replacing all our incandescent bulbs with 2D flouescent tubes, we are now expected to switch to LEDs. Our petrol car, low mileage and bought 5 years ago is perfectly servicable, but should now be electric. Our combi boiler, energy efficient at the time of purchase, now “guzzles fossil fuels”, and we are being nudged towards heat pumps. I’m sure it will not stop here

I am becoming increasingly convinced that the answer is to buy less - and also to do less when in involves consumption of resources. Move economic activity from production of new goods into maintaining and fixing existing stuff.

It just needs a realisation that our happiness need not be dependent on consumption. There are more important things in life.


Hear, hear! :clap:

It is important to distinguish between re-use (bottle washed and re-used), and recycled (bottle crushed, melted, reformed). Re-use is where we need to be heading as a society.


Years ago when I was a student in Durham the wine shop on the market place used to take bottles back. The local brewery (I think it was Vaux) used them for their standard range. Bottle shapes were fairly standard in those (70s) days, and presumably anything non-standard went to landfill or recycling. Al the beer bottles went back for refilling as well.


Just drink magnums. Then you are only using one glass bottle instead of two.


Exactly. My dad used to buy beer in quart bottle (Toly Cobbold) which was returned for re-use. Ditto I used to buy Guinness by the case & return the bottles for re-use. In Wolverhampton the brewery did a delivery & collection service for beer & pop !

So the ‘model’ exists.

I’d hazard a guess though… that the financial / carbon modelling has also been done for wine bottle re-use (for UK bottled wines, imported in bulk) - and found not to be viable.


My suggestion: We could buy & drink less wine was a genuine observation, provocative but should be considered.

As you say… we (I most definitely include myself) as consumers are in self denial, and do not wish to address the root cause of the problem.


Im sure less wine is being drunk … youngsters drink less alcohol these days


We still have our milk delivered in bottles three days a week and the milkman collects the empties for washing and re-use. We don’t buy milk from the supermarket in plastic bottles. If we have too much milk we decant into a washed out plastic bottle and freeze it - works very well. Could TWS and other vendors collect empty wine bottles to recycle?

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My father used to take a flagon to the pub which they would fill for consumption at home. Far better than the bottled beer that used to be available decades ago.

I remember too that in the days when pubs had a public bar and a saloon bar some of them had a separate counter/room specifically for off sales.

There is an increasing number of shops where you buy ‘loose’ products, taking your own container. I don’t imagine many here would be keen to buy their wine in that way.

But if you want to do it that way - HERE’S WHERE TO REFILL YOUR WINE BOTTLES - London On The Inside (

Maybe the society shop could have a couple of casks to handfill your bottles

I didn’t realise this was so widespread. There used to be an Italian deli near me that sold wine on tap, but it seemed quite expensive and the shop didn’t last long.