Making a Greener Wine Bottle

| 3/13/2009 6:01:44 PM

Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about environmentally friendly wines made with organic or biodynamic growing methods. But what about the containers that vino comes in? A few pioneers are trying to green up the wine bottle manufacturing business.

Sustainable Industries reports on Cameron Family Glass, a new glass factory in southwestern Washington that is carving out a niche as a local supplier of sustainably produced wine bottles. Most wineries use bottles imported from Mexico or France, but Cameron aims to supply 5 percent of the total number of bottles used by Washington, Oregon, and California wineries, thus reducing shipping emissions. It also plans to run its new factory on “98 percent” hydropower and wind power, says president and CEO Jim Cameron.

One of Cameron’s buyers, Heather Staten of Phelps Creek Vineyards in Hood Rood, Oregon, tells Sustainable Industries that there’s been an unsustainable arms race of sorts among high-end winemakers, saying that “very heavy bottles have become synonymous with quality” to the consumer.

The New York Times’ Green Inc. blog recently focused on the wine bottle weight issue, citing a column in the Napa Valley Register that noted that wine bottles appeared to have added more than a pound in recent decades, often in the base of the bottle.

Green Inc. reports that some winemakers such as California’s Fetzer Vineyards have bucked this trend and moved toward lighter bottles—and that more and more of the glass going into wine and other bottles is recycled. The Glass Packaging Institute is shooting for 50 percent recycled glass by 2013.

In the meantime, don’t fall for marketing gimmicks: The heavier the bottler, the more of an environmental lightweight the winemaker.

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