Eco-Friendly Wine Bottles? What Lightweights.

Sal holds a Political Science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
Can a multitude of bottles have a minimal impact? Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Shiraz, chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot grigio, merlot, chianti. Mmmm. So many wines for so many palates. Now, thanks to an eco-friendly glass packaging company, our favorite wines will be coming in lighter, thinner bottles.

Owens-Illinois, the world’s largest glass container producer, recently announced that it will produce a new wine bottle that will weigh more than 25 percent less than similar bottles.

“We are proud to offer additional lightweight packaging options that help customers realize their higher environmental savings,” said Stan Gossett, vice president and category director for North America Wine. The plan includes manufacturing bottles weighing as little as 11.6 ounces for the North American market.

Because wine bottles come in all shapes and sizes, their weight varies drastically—20 ounces seems around average.

While glass bottles are 100 percent recyclable, according to Environment Business Media their production is carbon intensive.

Manufacturing one ton of glass emits around 840 kg of CO2. Collecting, cleaning and reusing the bottles saves on average 640 kg of CO2/ton of glass compared to landfilling it—in effect it puts a ton of new bottles back on the shelf for 200 kg of CO2. Sending it back to a furnace to be remade gives a benefit of 314 kg CO2/ton, still a fair saving.

Use of the newer Owens-Illinois bottles will save “89 tons” of carbon dioxide, according to a company statement. This is the equivalent of “reducing semi-truck travel by 57,000 miles or the CO2 absorbed by 4,100 trees.”

Owens-Illinois’s green efforts could be market driven, says The Washington Post.

Consumers can now choose among an increasing number of wines in boxes and cardboard Tetra Paks. Those alternatives boast green credentials because they are lighter and can stack uniformly, cutting transportation costs as well as the carbon emissions created by getting wine from there to here. If they end up in landfills, they take up less room than bottles.

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