Wine bottles to become nearly 25% lighter as leading retailers and wine merchants commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

by | Oct 10, 2023 | Article, News, Production

In a ground-breaking development, led by the global industry body the Sustainable Wine Roundtable (SWR), leading wine retailers from around the world including Lidl GB, Naked Wines UK, Naked Wines USA, Systembolaget AB, The Wine Society, Virgin Wines, Waitrose & Partners, Whole Foods Market have reached an Accord to reduce the average weight of 750ml still wine bottles in their range. The average 750ml still wine bottle weight today is approximately 550 grams. The ‘SWR Bottle Weight Accord’ will see the companies involved reduce their average bottle to weigh less than 420 grams by the end of 2026.

Most research indicates that the glass bottle contributes between a third and a half of wine’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Those retailers which have already signed up to the Accord collectively sell around 250m bottles of wine a year. The 25% drop in bottle weight promised by the Accord will deliver carbon savings of more than 23 million tonnes per year.

World renowned wine journalist, Jancis Robinson, who for many years has advocated the need for lighter bottles welcomed the Accord: “I’ve been talking about this for so long. Lighter bottles is an easy win for the wine sector to reduce its carbon emissions. It is very exciting that the SWR has produced an evidence base to demonstrate how change can happen, and for this Accord to push that forward in practice.”

The SWR Bottle Weight Accord is the result of research undertaken by the SWR in 2023. This research was co-funded by a group of retailers including Alko Oy (Finland), Systembolaget AB (Sweden), The Wine Society (UK) and Whole Foods Market (USA). SWR’s research found that the much-touted perception that consumers associate heavy glass bottles with higher wine quality is overstated – and that there are a growing number of examples of highly successful quality wine brands using lighter weight bottles.

Discussions with glass makers and bottlers also established that appropriate adjustments to bottling lines and packing can ensure that lightweight bottles are just as robust in use as their heavier counterparts. Nonetheless the group appreciates that their goal is ambitious – and will be working with the rest of the wine value chain to make the Accord successful.

The SWR has an active working group looking at the issue of packaging which is chaired by the SWR’s research lead, Dr Peter Stanbury, who is delighted that the group has committed to such meaningful action in terms of reducing their carbon emissions connected to bottle weight; “This outcome demonstrates what can be achieved through collaboration in a notoriously fragmented business. Not only will it help these companies meet their own ESG goals but it will also ensure they are well placed to meet the extended producer responsibility regulations on packaging waste disposal coming into force in the EU, the UK and elsewhere”.

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