Next time you grab that hefty, beautifully labeled, sculptured wine bottle of colored glass, think about the bottle’s repercussions on the environment.
Think about its environmental impact getting to your wine store and what happens afterwards, after you happily discard the empty bottle.
This is five part series of investigative articles in the environment impact of wine bottles and a critical look at an under-utilized, smart alternative — the eco friendly box wine.
The investigative environmental impact story is not intended as a comment on the wine bottle’s palette-pleasing contents – its just a critical look into the liquid’s vessel that was developed so many centuries ago. This is just another segment of your carbon footprint. And the team here at Green Blizzard critically evaluates every aspect of our lives for smarter ways to reduce our personal and society’s carbon footprint.
Wine consumption is just one area, just ripe for improvement. On the surface, it may not appear to really meaningful, but once your look at the numbers, the per capita usage, and the alarming discarded carnage, it will become clear that there is significant upside potential, potential to whittle-away at your carbon footprint – simple by changing our ways.
As that empty wine bottle is being tossed into the recycling bin, the typical rationale is “I’m doing the right thing because this bottle is recyclable and my town will recycle it”
Yes, it’s recyclable, but is it really recycled in most jurisdictions? Unfortunately, not really. The odds are not in your favor, there’s about a 30% chance of it being recycled and not buried in a landfill or incinerated.
Isn’t there a better way to deliver wine to our dinner table and social gatherings, in some other container that’s more technically advanced and actually recycled?
There’s an option now, sitting in every wine outlet – box wine.
Box wine has been around for 50 years now, since the late 60’s, and these box containers enjoy widespread acceptance in most of larger wine consuming countries across Europe and Australia. In the U.S., it’s still suffering under a stigma of being bulk, low quality wine. Consumers are reluctant to test box wine and continue to mindlessly fall victim to glitzy imaginary on wine bottle labels. This simple shortsightedness is blocking consumer willingness to give box wine a try. Those who have given it a try have shown that they are willing to change their consumption habits and opt more often for the box.
Its a major missed opportunity for all of us to shrink our carbon footprint while enjoying a comparable quality of this enjoyable beverage. This may not be true in all cases, because the selection of box wine, although impressive, is still not yet widespread, but with enough re-channeling of our wine consumption demand, eventually the breadth of selection will improve.
Here’s a framework of facts that show just how large the opportunity to shift the marketplace and reduce that part of our carbon footprint as it relates to wine consumption:
In the U.S., 329 million cases of wine were consumed in 2014, that’s 3.95 billion glass bottles carted off to the landfill every year.
The combined weight of a bottle of wine: glass bottle, cork, capsule, label weighs between 2.75 to 3.5 pounds. In total – the glass is 40% of the total weight of the typical full bottle.
The average weight of an empty 750ml wine bottle is 500 grams, about 1.1 pounds. But can range from 300 to 900 grams.
Every year, more than 4.3 billion pounds of bottle glass arrive at local waste facilities for our municipalities to figure out proper disposal.
Only about 30% of bottles are recycled – there’s just not enough demand to match this huge and growing supply of cast-off color glass bottles.
70% of wine bottles are NOT recycled and are either buried in the landfills or incinerated.
On average 2.82 gallons are consumer per capita in the U.S., the largest wine consuming nation in the world. That’s 14 bottles per year, but that’s assuming everyone is a wine drinker, and misleading. If you enjoy wine, its more likely 1-2 bottles a week, assuming one to two glasses most nights. The point is, if you enjoy wine, the upside to reduce your carbon footprint by consuming wine that’s packaged in smarter, more environmental packaging is huge!
There are 9,000 wineries in North America, 8,300 in the U.S, 3,900 (50%) in California and 5,300 on the West Coast. California produces 90% of all U.S. wine and is the world’s 4th leading wine producer after Italy, Spain and France.
Because the majority of consumers live east of the Mississippi, a large part of carbon-dioxide emissions associated with wine comes from trucking it.
56 percent reported they consume wine daily or several times per week, making them “High Frequency Wine Drinkers,” according to Wine Market Council. The remaining 44 percent are considered to be “Occasional Drinkers.”
A standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters of wine and generates about 5.2 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions when it travels from a vineyard in California to a store in New York. A 3-liter box generates about half the emissions per 750 milliliters. Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars.
According to Wine Searcher and a recent Nielsen research project, they found that the market has been growing year over year and since 2009 box wines has doubled its share. Box wine sales represent 7% of all wine by value and 18% of all wine sold by volume. Currently there at 16 brands offering a 3 liter box and enjoying sales nearing the million dollar mark.
But here’s the rub, only 5% of the wine purchasers buy box wine. This is pivotal, with noticeable increases in that marketshare, more wineries will get with it and start offering their products in a more environmentally friendly container. Interestingly, when people buy try box wines the repurchase rate is high.