Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plastic Wine Bottles Chosen for Sustainability Advantage Over Glass

Due to their environmental advantage over glass, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles have reached the sophisticated world of naturally fermented grape juice! According to a recent article in Packaging Digest, plastic bottles are the more sustainable choice for packaging some fine, high quality wines. Boisset Family Estates will now use PET bottles for all of its Beaujolais Nouveau wines imported to North America from the company's wineries of Mommessin and Bouchard Aîné. In fact, this is the third time the company has gone with PET bottles instead of glass.

The company’s president, Jean Charles Boisset, explains why the company has decided to go with PET:

"The lightweight, blow-molded PET bottles made by Constar Intl. utilize the MonOxbar Plus™ oxygen-scavenging technology that extends wine's shelf life while allowing it to “breathe.” Boisset says the biggest benefit of PET is that it dramatically reduces the weight of the bottles. Now, he says, Boisett can ship 1,750 cases of the Beaujolais in a container instead of only 1,000 cases of glass bottles. This is especially important, Boisset explains, because the Beaujolais Nouveau must be shipped by air to meet tight deadlines for its distribution... Boisett says that after studying the supply chain, the obvious opportunities were in packaging, where the company could minimize its carbon footprint, packaging weight and waste volume, while reducing the waste flow to landfills."

Furthermore, according to Packaging Digest, the PET bottles are recyclable with the 1-PET resin identification code and have less of a carbon footprint: “Boissett says that life cycle analysis shows that the production of 750-mL wine bottles generates approximately 50 percent fewer greenhouse gases than the production of 750-mL wine bottles in virgin glass.” Also, the bottles are produced in close proximity to where the wine is made and filled in order to reduce environmental impact and cost of transportation.

Forbes magazine's Eric Arnold wrote about the sustainability benefits of packaging fine wine in plastic bottles rather than glass back in July:

"According to an October 2007 study from the American Association of Wine Economists, the production and distribution of wine is responsible for roughly 6.3 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions, or nearly .1% of global emissions annually. That's equivalent to the emissions generated by 1 million passenger cars each year, with nearly all of that impact coming from the transportation of the wine, not the production of it.”

“It is critical today, with the scarcity of our planet’s resources and the known environmental impacts of human activity, that we consider whether we should still ship thousands of cases of wine in heavy bottles by air throughout the world, when we can cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than half through a responsible choice of packaging,” says Boisset.

Boisset Family Estates is far from the only vintner to move toward plastic bottles. But never has the sustainability argument been so clearly made. Toast your friends and celebrate!

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