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Bulk wine imports to help packaging reductions

Results of a Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) report revealed bulk wine imports to the UK offer the greatest potential reduction of CO2 emissions.

The study, called Bottling in a Changing Climate, identified increased bulk importing and light weighting glass bottles as the best ways of reducing glass waste as well as  the industrys carbon footprint.

It found that significant reduction in CO2 emissions from the transportation of wine can be achieved by converting wine from shipping in bottles to bulk importation. This can reduce emissions by 30% to 40%. In addition, lighter glass bottles can also achieve reductions of up to 30%. WRAP said that even larger reductions are possible by combining these strategies.

WRAP launched its findings at the London International Wine & Sprits Fair at Excel to promote key industry players involvement in reducing packaging to the wider international industry.

Project manager of the retail initiative Nicola Jenkin said: Big names like Tesco, Asda and Morrisons are talking to their suppliers, so the message is filtering down to wine growers. Then the growers want to talk to WRAP.

Reducing glass waste will also help retailers meet their obligations under the Courtauld Commitment on packaging waste reduction. It is also a step towards the UK meeting its EU Packaging Directive targets.

Talking about bulk importing WRAP project manager Nicola Jenkin said: [Our] focus is on high volume wines and ones that are below the price of about £5 and those from the new world.

The economic viability of the changes were also emphasised. They include cash savings in energy and transport costs and that bottling wines in the UK will boost the domestic recycled glass market.

WRAPs target for bulk importing is an increase of 130 million litres within a year as well as the removal of 20,000 tonnes of glass from household waste by March 2008.

However, bulk importing is not ideal for all producers. There are legal boundaries for wines like Rioja, which must be bottled within a certain area.

WRAP manager local authority relations Chris Davey said: There may also be social and political reasons for keeping bottling in a country, for example in South Africa, where the industry provides jobs.

An option for these companies is bottle light weighting. Now there is more choice in shape and colour of light weight bottle than before, which makes it more attractive for brand marketing. WRAP are also looking at the production of high quality light weight bottles in the UK.

Design and glass quality are vital to light weighting. Jenkin added: One importer asked if his insurance premiums would go up if he used light weights, but it shouldnt be affected if the bottle is engineered properly.

Davey added: There have also been trials of technical strength and UV strikes. Bottles have also been run down a packet fillers line to make sure that they dont break during the process, and they dont.

The Courtauld Commitment is voluntary but if members targets are not met there may be need for legislation in the future. This will be clear when the deadlines in 2008 and 2010 are reached.

Davey said: The UK is at the end of the process, the Government cant legislate against wine production! So the approach they take to reducing glass waste and CO2 production has to be an educatory one.

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