A new world on the garbage hill - what happens to used wine bottles?

You wouldn't even think, but in the process of wine production, fifty percent of the carbon footprint is the result of the production and transportation of wine bottles. In addition, of all the glass packaging that is thrown away in households, 50 percent are wine bottles. This means about 15 billion discarded bottles per year.
A new world on the garbage hill - what happens to used wine bottles?

Recycling one ton of glass saves about 40 percent of the energy and 50 percent of the water needed to produce new glass packaging, while air pollution is reduced by about 20 percent. While in the European Union, on average, 70 percent of glass packaging is recycled, in Serbia it is about 45 percent. More and more people are talking about recycling the wine bottles, even about possible replacement as an alternative, however the most realistic solution may be to switch from the currently heaviest bottles to light bottles.

The Bordeaux Wine Association is also advocating a low-carbon path for the production of wine bottles from an environmental perspective. They suggest that the weight of the bottle does not exceed 265 grams. An encouraging initiative has also been launched in New York, where an entrepreneur sells bottles with his labels to winemakers, and consumers can return those bottles at designated locations. Another company picks them up and disinfects them, so the bottles are immediately ready for wine to be bottled in them again. Cooperation has started with 50 wineries and another hundred of them want to become part of the project. Of course, this initiative also started "from below", because there is not a single country in the world where, apart from big words and platitudes, someone would seriously deal with the topic of environmental protection and bring serious lessons. All this is not in line with capitalism and with the big players, who are interested in selling, which leads to unbridled consumption and waste.


A new world on the garbage hill - what happens to used wine bottles?
A new world on the garbage hill - what happens to used wine bottles?

Interesting fact: the largest bottle of wine is displayed in a restaurant in Australia - 1590 liters, empty weights 770 kilograms. Fortunately, it will not become a trend in the world.

Regarding the weight of wine bottles, it is true that there are still few wineries that pay attention to this dimension of environmental protection, but the topic is becoming more and more important. Most quality wines are bottled in 600-900g bottles (empty bottles). These bottles are also 750 ml, like the 430 gram bottles. It is important to note that the weight of the bottle has no influence on the quality of the wine. The reason why wineries opt for heavier bottles is the psychology of consumers who associate heavier bottles with better quality. Larger and heavier bottles at the same time "tell" us that the quantity in it is also greater. The customer feels they are getting more for their money, in a nicer, bigger bottle. Usually, the buyer is willing to pay double the amount for a larger, heavier bottle than it cost the winemaker.

The question is what would be the trigger for both the winemaker and the customer to change their mind and start thinking differently?

First of all, it should be a responsibility towards the ecosystem of our planet. The production of light bottles reduces carbon emissions by 50 percent, the transport of empty bottles also by 50 percent, while filled bottles by 30 percent. In France, winemakers who produce natural, biodynamic and organic wines have launched an initiative to switch to light bottles, which also have a trademark, and at the same time, because of all this, it is becoming an important moment for conscious customers. A serious change regarding this question can be expected when winemakers, distributors and customers will stand together for the protection of the environment, even when it comes to the wine bottle.

In Serbia, among winemakers, Oskar Maurer is a pioneer in replacing old, heavier bottles, who already in 2003 chose lighter bottles, and from 2021 he bottles 100% of his wines in bottles weighing 430 grams, which have the least negative impact on the environment. Mladen Vujić at MV winery and McCulloch (McC) winery chose 500 gram bottles, but other natural, biodynamic and organic winemakers also took the first steps in replacing heavier bottles. In order to save our planet, every percentage is important, while 30-50% means incredibly much. We hope that other wineries will soon follow in their footsteps.

Author: Viktor Bori

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