The South African wine industry is cementing its status as one of the world’s most eco-progressive winemaking nations with the introduction of new light-weight bottles aimed to reduce the industry’s impact on the environment.
Wines of South African (Wosa) CEO Su Birch, elaborates that this year will see the introduction of 750ml wine bottles closed with screwcaps weighing only 350 grams.
This compares with an average bottle weight of over 500 grams just four years ago.
According to Consol Glass, South Africa’s leading manufacturer of glass containers for the beverage industry, until 2006 the average weight of a 750ml non-returnable wine bottle was 516 grams.
This had dropped to 437 grams by last year, which was a weight decrease of 15 percent. The new light-weight bottle will bring down the average still further.
The reduction in the weight of the wine bottles will ultimately reduce the carbon emissions created during the transportation and export of wine bottles as lighter bottles would result in a lower fuel consumption.
“As we raise our export volumes of mostly bottled wines, we also increase our carbon emissions, so it becomes a delicate balancing act to enhance our sustainability profile while pushing up our output,” says Birch.
Thus, one of the solutions is to reduce the weight of the wine bottles while increasing export output.
(South Africa continues to rank as the fastest-growing wine category in the United Kingdom, increasing its volume share of the market to 12,3% for 2009, up from 10,4% in 2008.)
While many stakeholders in the South African wine industry have actively supported bottle recycling programmes in recent years to reduce their impact on the environment, efforts are now being accelerated tofocus on light-weight wine bottles as well.
“The new 350 gram glass bottles for red and white wines have been designed to accommodate screwcap closures, which account for over 65 percent of South Africa’s wine production,” elaborates Birch.
“They are scheduled for launch by mid-April, in time for the 2010 grape harvest.”
At the same time, the average weight of bottles sealed with corks have been reduced in weight from 570 grams to 460 grams.
Birch further states that the sturdy, light-weighted bottles, apart from strengthening South Africa’s reputation for environmentally responsible wine production, will also address the demands of leading retailers.
However, it should be noted that not all wine producers would be adopting the new light-weight bottles. The adoption of the bottles will depend on the style of the wine as well as the range or barnd under which the wine is marketed.
Birch concludes that alternative wine packaging, such as the wine pouch offered by leading export brand, Arniston Bay, has also been welcomed in many export markets.
The new 350 gram glass bottles for red and white wines have been designed to accommodate screwcap closures.
The average weight of bottles sealed with corks have been reduced in weight from 570 grams to 460 grams.