The SW Summary: Celebrating leaders in sustainable winegrowing, the flat future of wine packaging and impacts of climate change

By Hanna Halmari

Celebrating the Eco-Conscious: The 2019 Drinks Business Green Awards

The Drinks Business held its annual Green Awards last week, celebrating the drinks companies leading the way in sustainable practices. In this recap of the awards, author Lucy Shaw emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to sustainability: 

“Today, if you’re going to be truly sustainable, you must consider all aspects of your operations – whether that’s energy use, waste treatment, recycling rates, transport type, packaging weight or how you benefit your surroundings, socially and environmentally.” Not only ethically motivated, drinks businesses must adopt more green practices to stay competitive given the sector’s “[increasing demand for] ethically-sourced products that do as little as possible to pollute their environs”. 

Symington Family Estates, a B Corp company as of this year, received the ‘Ethical Company of the Year’ Award. The company was recognised for its impressive achievements in environmental and social sustainability. Not only have the Symingtons seen through 16 projects in 2019, ranging from ambulance donations, copper reduction and carbon capture, but they have also successfully reduced carbon emissions per bottle by 23% since 2015.

The ‘Green Retailer of the Year’ Award went to Marks & Spencer, in recognition of their successful ‘Plan A’ sustainability project. With a goal of an 80% carbon emission reduction from 2007 to 2030, the retailer is on track to achieve this having reached a 75% reduction this year. The company has also made advances in packaging, with a target to  “make all its packaging ‘widely recycled’ by 2022”.

Accolade Wines won the ‘Logistics and Supply Chain Green Initiative of the Year’ Award due to its efforts in finding more sustainable methods for goods transportation. In early 2019, Accolade, Tesco and WEPA launched their combined delivery programme to maximise vehicle capacities and increase efficiencies. Since the programme’s launch, they achieved “an annual saving of 53 tonnes of CO2 and [a] cost saving of £80,000.”

The ‘Water Management in Wine’ Award went to RedHeads Wine, an Australian winery focused on “water collection, reducing waste water and water recycling.” Operating in Angaston, Australia – a dry environment with little rainfall – the company has managed to capture 2.7 million litres of water through innovative collection methods. 

Tenute Lunelli won the ‘Organic Initiative of the Year’ Award for its organic wineries in Trentodoc, Tuscany and Umbria. The company’s wine management programme ‘Animavitis’ “works in harmony with the cycles and rhythms of nature..perfectly combining organics, tradition and innovation.” 

The ‘Green Launch of the Year’ Award went to Avallen Spirits, a producer of Calvados who goes beyond the ‘do no harm’ approach. To help increase biodiversity, the company donates a share of profits to bee protection organisations. Alongside using eco-friendly packaging, Avallen also sources apples from over 300 local farmers and is working towards a closed-loop production system.

See all the Green Awards winners here.


Sustainable Wine Packaging: The Future is Flat

Euronews and Forbes both recently published articles about Garçon Wines, the London-based pioneer of sustainable wine packaging. Alarmed by the high carbon footprint of glass bottles, the company designed an innovative packaging alternative. Garçon Wines’ shatter-proof flat bottle is made out of PET plastic, or “100% post-consumer recycled plastic”, which has no impact on the contents inside. The flat bottle holds the standard 750ml, but is 87% lighter than a standard glass bottle and is thin enough to fit through a letterbox.

Not only are the flat bottles made out of entirely recycled materials and recyclable, but they also save 500g of CO2 per bottle. The reduced bottle weight and flat design enables compact stacking which reduces transportation CO2 emissions and costs compared to standard glass bottles. Santiago Navarro, co-founder of Garçon Wines, tells Forbes that “based on a consignment of 50,000 bottles, the number of trucks used to transport the same volume of wine would fall from five to two.”

“Most wine companies don’t think about the packaging, they just take what has been around and inherit it. It’s an antiquated model,” Navarro tells Euronews. However, as climate change becomes a more obvious threat to the wine industry companies are starting to take action. Garçon Wines currently operates in the UK and the Netherlands and is expanding to the French, Spanish, Scandinavian and North American markets, reports Forbes.

As the author of the Forbes article Scott concludes, “when it comes to wine, in future the world may be flat – cheers!” 


Climate Change as One of the Biggest Long-Term Risks for the Wine Industry

ProWein’s recent report on the wine industry has revealed that, “after health policy challenges and obstacles to global trade,” climate change is one of the most prevalent issues for the wine industry. Rupert Millar covers the report for The Drinks Business in this article here, highlighting how the effects of climate change can be felt across the entire wine industry supply chain. Whilst the greatest impacts of climate change are currently experienced by vineyards through volatile yields, these create “a volatile pricing atmosphere, which is a key challenge for bulk wine shippers and bottlers.”

73% of ProWein’s survey respondents across the wine industry said they expect climate change to impact their business and 86% of respondents believe that “the wine industry must become more sustainable; economically, environmentally and socially.” 

“Nine out of [ten] producers surveyed said they had already felt some form of effect over the last five years”, and one in three producers expect that “new oenological practices…new grape varieties…reverting to indigenous varieties…or [the introduction of] new hybrids” will be necessary by 2030.

However, as Millar expresses, “the report was not entirely a litany of doom and disaster.” He highlights how shared challenges often encourage stronger and closer collaboration among businesses and how many industry players are already taking action through more sustainable business practices. 

This more positive outlook is shared by Barbara Barrielle, who, writing for Wine Industry Advisor,  states that the wine industry is “well equipped to meet climate change challenges.” Barrielle’s article quotes Jim Trezise, President of WineAmerica, who is acutely aware of the issues in the wine industry posed by climate change. He believes, however, that through innovation, adaptation and collaboration the wine industry will be able to combat the effects of climate change. 

“The people in this industry have strategic vision. They are special in the wine business and, by the nature of the business, have a long-range mentality. The nature of our industry means we are unique and there is a natural collaboration of people in the wine industry…[We] share and steal practices, collaborate with each other and will help to spread good practices…With these factors, we are going to be just fine,” Trezise says. Read more here.


2020 International Sustainable Winegrowing Competition Winner: Crittenden Estate

Earlier this month Crittenden Estate was announced as the 2020 International Sustainable Winegrowing Competition winner. Run by The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) alongside FIVS, “a Paris-based international federation of sustainability-minded wine organisations,” the competition aims to recognise wine producers leading the way in sustainable practices in the industry, explains Ian Horswill in his article for CEO Magazine

Based in Victoria, Australia,Crittenden Estate received the award due to its numerous environmental, economic and social sustainability programs.  The family-owned winery submitted its 2017 Cri de Coeur Pinot Noir to demonstrate its commitment to sustainability in the wine industry. Horswill elaborates on the winning winery’s sustainable growing practices, discussing how the vineyard has:

“Abandoned the use of chemicals in the vineyard for an innovative program of inter-row cover crops and soil cultivation; [has] a twelve-month composting program to maintain soil health; [has introduced] bees to the property to fertilise desirable fruit trees; [has reduced] energy costs by sixty percent…with the installation of solar panels; and [reclaims] and [reuses] water through [their]water treatment plant.”

Read more on Crittenden Estate’s sustainability initiatives here

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About the author

Hanna Halmari

Hanna Halmari is the editor at Sustainable Wine and the head of conferences at Innovation Forum. Hanna specialises in sustainability research and events across various industries. She holds an MSc in international development from Kings’s College London, where she developed a strong interest in political economy and post-communist transformation. Hanna speaks Finnish, Bulgarian and English. In her spare time she is a dedicated Radio Lollipop volunteer at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, enjoys travelling, and tasting new wines.