Ever wonder what are the environmental benefits of box wine versus conventional glass bottles? Seems like all that heavy colored glass that you lug out to the recycling bin is a bit excessive in weight and material. These days, there must be a better solution to deliver that savory wine.
When it was first introduced in 1964, boxed wine initially got off on the wrong foot and has been slow to repair its reputation. Today wine merchants and wine snobs want to you keep thinking that wine in a glass bottle is preferable and the only reasonable way to go.
But with a few updated insights and smarter buying, you can join the movement to change this marketing myth.
Wine weighs about the same as water and does not interaction with the standard food packaging plastic (polyethylene). So why do we keep lugging around and recycling these heavy glass containers for wine, but not water? We drink water from all sorts of plastic containers, even really, really expensive imported waters.
Packaging technology has dramatically changed and maybe so should your buying habits. When you step back and look at it, bottling wine is a really archaic manufacturing process, older than the now banned incandescent light bulb – back to the days of widespread monasteries. Wine bottles should take their rightful place on the museum shelve along with the antique incandescent bulbs.
Most wines still come in 750ml bottles. The bottle and wine typically weight 3-3.5 pounds with about 40% or 1.5 pounds of that attributable to the bottle and packaging. That’s really high for something that coming long distances to and from your consumption point.
The Aussies drink most of their wine from boxes, why doesn’t the U.S. market wise up and do the same? If American’s shifted their wine buying habits municipal recycling programs that haul away all this heavy glass would give a collective sigh of relief.
Pro and Cons – Box versus Bottle
Pros – obviously we found quite a few….
Weight Ratio – Bottled wine, 40% of the overall package weight is in the bottle, whereas box is a mere 4%
Taste – It’s the same food grade plastic (polyethylene) that’s used in all your other refrigerated food. There is no interaction between the wine and the plastic.
Stays Fresh Longer – Open boxed wine can last 6-8 weeks and even longer if refrigerated. Bottled maybe 5 days. The bag in the box collapse and keeps the oxygen from ruining the wine.
Better Value – Wine quality aside. Boxed wine does not have as much overhead, no heavy bottles, screwtops, foils, corks, labels, merely a biodegradable cardboard box and a collapsing plastic bag and cap.
Creative Sizes – The standard is a 5-liters. Some higher quality wines offer 3 liters (equal to four bottles). Plus there a wines in “barrels” for parties and wines in soft bags for hiking and camping.
Cons: A little harder to identify….
Limited Selection – Only a handful of wineries offer their product in a box, that’s what consumers are blindly insisting on. But if we one-by-one change our demand, the market will respond.
Less Energy Consumed Making Glass – It takes less energy to manufacture glass from sand (5000-9700 watt-hours) than plastic from crude oil (17,000-31,000 watt hours). But if you use significantly fewer kilograms of plastic in the packaging, it’s a net savings.
Minority Percentage Recycled – In 2012, 41% of beer and soft drink bottles were recovered for recycling, according to the U.S. EPA. Another 34% of wine and liquor bottles. In total, 34% of all glass containers were recycled, equivalent to taking 210,000 cars off the road each year. Not bad, but less than most of us thought.
So give this a try, next time you’re at your favorite wine store, look for the boxed wines, get some advise on which best matches your palette preference and give it a whirl.
Be sure to ask your wine merchant to consider expanding his/her store selection and to consider the environmental benefits of boxed wine. It all starts with you. With a little more vocal consumer demand, we should be able to green our lifestyles with smarter packaging choices and consumption habits and encourage others to do the same.