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WRAP launches wine waste reduction plan

Published:  23 July, 2008

A WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) initiative which seeks to boost the UK's glass recycling market and reduce the amount of glass waste stemming from the wine industry has been launched.

The new project will see government-backed WRAP working with British Glass to encourage more wine importers, brand owners and retailers to bulk import wine and bottle it in lighter glass bottles manufactured in the UK.

More than one billion litres of wine is imported each year from Europe and the New World, around 80% of which arrives already bottled. WRAP research suggests that the current average weight of a 75cl wine bottle is 500g, although bottles of around 300g are in circulation.

By encouraging the use of lighter weight wine bottles, WRAP is aiming to reduce the amount of UK glass waste by 20,000 tonnes annually.

The project will be overseen by a steering group made up of representatives from the wine supply chain, such as Constellation, Quinn Glass, the Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA), Trans Ocean Distribution Ltd and Tesco.

Both Tesco and Constellation recently moved to bottling more of their products in the UK or Europe. Shipping costs can be reduced by up to 40% and the environment benefits from the use of less fuel than is needed to transport full bottles.

Andy Dawe, glass technology manager at WRAP, commented: Despite the concerns that some overseas suppliers may have, the UK bottling industry has plenty of capacity to both produce and fill bottles. Our research shows that an additional 10% switch will mean 55,000 tonnes less glass imported and a rise in demand for recycled green glass in the UK of 50,000 tonnes; a combined improvement of 105,000 tonnes per year.

As well as tonnage benefits, this move will also improve the industry's carbon emissions profile, while at the same time reducing business costs.'

To demonstrate the benefits of the initiatives a series of commercial trials will soon be under way, involving major retailers such as Asda and Tesco. The demonstration trials will also aim to understand the barriers associated with bulk importing and lightweighting.

John Corbet- Milward, WSTA head of technical and international affairs, commented: The WSTA has given its support to the project and feels it's important for producers to investigate whether they can help make a difference in reducing glass waste if the economic case for doing so makes sense.'

WRAP has developed a web-based tool to demonstrate the economic and environmental case for bulk shipping and lightweighting (