Study reveals carbon impact of bottling Australian wine in the UK in PET and glass bottles

13th March 2008

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has announced the results of the first UK study into the carbon impact of bottling wine in the UK in glass and PET bottles.

The report looks at the carbon impact of 75cl glass and PET wine bottles and how significant reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) can be made through lightweighting and increasing recycled content of bottles. 

The study compares PET bottles versus typical glass bottles used by UK-based bottlers. The core comparison was between: 

  • PET bottle = 54g with 0% recycled content
  • Typical glass bottle available in UK = 496g with 81% recycled content
  • Lightweight glass bottle available in UK = 365g with 81% recycled content

Two further comparisons are also made in the full report:

  • 365g with 92% recycled content glass bottles; and
  • PET bottles with different recycled content. 

Richard Swannell WRAP Director of Retail and Organics Programmes commented: “This is an important piece of work that demonstrates the positive environmental impact of lightweighting and the incorporation of recycled content. It will help inform the wine, packaging and retail industries on the environmental impact of their packaging choices. 

He added “The research highlights that there are clear environmental wins to be gained by considering carefully the impact of material choices. Ultimately, the final decisions by producers will also depend upon numerous variables including what the supply chain requires, product storage and shelf life requirements, recyclability and consumer preferences”. 

Report Summary

Using a lighter glass bottle

Lightweighting bottles has been shown to have benefits in terms of CO2 savings from transport of loads. Consequently, reducing glass bottle weight reduces the quantity of CO2 emissions associated with wine packaging. PET comes out marginally lower than the 365g glass bottle when using the medium estimate for glass production emissions, although the higher CO2 emissions arising for PET from manufacture offset much of the savings obtained from its low weight.  In both scenarios, excluding or including end-of-life, the emissions attributed to the 54g PET bottle lie within the range of emissions attributable to the 365g glass bottle.

Using rPET

CO2 emissions are reduced when incorporating recycled PET into new bottle manufacture, primarily because extraction, transport and synthesis of crude oil are avoided. It is more energy and resource efficient to incorporate recycled PET into bottle manufacture than to produce PET bottles using only virgin material.

The full report will be available on the WRAP website www.wrap.org.uk/retail  from 13 March 2008.

FAQs

How can this research be used?

This carbon impact indicates the benefits of lightweighting and using recycled content in both glass and PET wine bottles.

It provides information on the environmental impacts associated with glass and PET wine bottles and shows that light glass bottles with a high recycled content produce broadly the same amount of greenhouse gases as a much lighter PET bottle. For both glass and PET it shows that incorporating recycled content decreases greenhouse gas emissions.

It illustrates where in the bottle’s manufacturing and transportation ‘life’ it has the greatest environmental impact.

What can’t this carbon impact study be used for?

This carbon footprint cannot be used for products with different uses and functionality for example PET trays or glass jam jars.

Why was this carbon impact carried out?

One of WRAP’s key roles is to help businesses achieve much greater environmental efficiency in their packaging choices. As part of our work we provide a range of tools and undertake cutting-edge research to help brand owners, retailers and other stakeholders make informed decisions about the packaging formats they choose for their products.

As part of this work we commissioned a study to establish the impact of removing weight and increasing recycled content, on the carbon footprint of 75cl glass and PET wine bottles.

Who carried out this work?

This research formed a larger piece of work, which included trialling PET wine bottles in the retail sector, and carrying out consumers’ perceptions to PET wine bottles.

The trialling of the PET bottles in the retail sector was carried out by Artenius PET Packaging (formerly Amcor PET Packaging), and was not funded by WRAP.

WRAP had a particular interest in assessing the environmental impact of PET wine bottles, and commissioned work on these elements accordingly so as to inform the wider industry of the findings.

The carbon impact was carried out by Best Foot Forward.

Will WRAP develop a material hierarchy using this research?

No, this research is not designed to be compared with other materials used for bottling wine, such as pouches or liquid cartons, or to rank materials.

Does WRAP recommend PET over glass?

No, WRAP believes there are many factors to consider when choosing packaging materials: including what the supply chain requires, product storage and shelf life requirements, recyclability and consumer preferences.  Therefore, generalisations on material selection are hard to make.

WRAP encourages a range of packaging innovations to reduce the environmental impact of packaging including lightweighting, refill packs, recyclability and the increase of recycled content.

Can this research be used as a decision making tool?

Yes, it can be used as a decision making tool.

The results should be used in conjunction with other information, such as cost benefit analyses, consumer surveys, ethical considerations etc.

What wine and bottles were assessed?

Wine bulk imported from Australia, since this is one of the main producing countries from which wine is bulk imported.

75cl PET wine bottle - Weight: 54g; Recycled content: 0%(current); Scenarios: 50% and 100% recycled content; Manufactured by: Artenius PET Packaging in the UK; Filled: Corby Bottlers, UK.

75cl glass wine bottles - Weights: Average sold in UK retail - 496g. Lightest manufactured in UK - 365g; Recycled content: European default for green 80; Manufactured: European default, and one UK manufacturer.

What was included in this carbon impact?

The study includes CO2 emissions arising from the:

  • Transportation of empty flexitanks to the winery in Australia.
  • Transportation of filled flexitanks from the winery to an Australian port.
  • Transportation of filled flexitanks by ship from Australia to the UK.
  • Transportation of filled flexitanks from the UK port to the bottling plant.
  • Production of different types of bottles and pallets used in transport.
  • Transportation of empty bottles from the manufacturer to the bottling plant.
  • Transportation of filled bottles from the bottling plant to a distribution centre.
  • Transportation of filled bottles from the distribution centre to the retail outlet.
  • Transportation of filled bottles from the retail outlet to the customers’ homes.

What was not included in this research?

It does not include:

  • The cultivation of grapes (viniculture) or production of wine.
  • The production of labels or stoppers used in wine bottles.
  • Filling operations.
  • Secondary and tertiary packaging.
  • Other non-Artenius manufactured PET bottles.
  • Incineration of the different types of bottles at waste management or energy recovery facilities.

What is PET/ rPET?

Polyethylene Terephthalate:  It is a thermoplastic created when two substances react to form a resin with good resistance and barrier properties against sunlight, oil and grease.

rPET is PET that contains recycled content.

  • WRAP works in partnership to encourage and enable businesses and consumers to be more efficient in their use of materials and recycle more things more often. This helps to minimise landfill, reduce carbon emissions and improve our environment.
  • Established as a not-for-profit company in 2000, WRAP is backed by government funding from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Working in seven key areas (Construction, Retail, Manufacturing, Organics, Business Growth, Behavioural Change, and Local Authority Support), WRAP’s work focuses on market development and support to drive forward recycling and materials resource efficiency within these sectors, as well as wider communications and awareness activities including the multi-media national Recycle Now campaign for England.
  • More information on all of WRAP's programmes can be found on www.wrap.org.uk