The Telegraph (!) reports on a study that shows alternative wine packaging is on the rise. The (British) industry is trying to lightweight materials: Marks & Spencer has ten wines in pouches this year and 200 million liters of wine will be sold across Europe in cans next year.
What do you think: sign of the wine apocalypse or a green choice? In your calculations, consider that although aluminum is much lighter than glass and is very recyclable and cans are efficiently stackable, the emissions of making aluminum may negate the greenhouse gas savings in transport, especially if the journey is short and the can is used only once and then chucked in a landfill.
Related: “Calculating the carbon footprint of wine“
Remember those obnoxiously heavy bottles that were all the rage before the recession? Well, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has told them they are not welcome. That’s right, to be sold monopolist’s stores that serve the 13 million residents of the province, bottles must be lightweight, tipping the scales at 420g maximum (as a reference point, the wine inside the bottle weighs 750g).
It’s good to light a fire under producers to lightweight bottles; wine lags other beverages, which have been constantly reducing the weight of their packaging over the past few decades. However, the LCBO is only applying this rule, applicable in 2013, to bottles selling for less than C$15.
Thus the new rule still valorizes heavy bottles: Producers may still try to position their premium wines with shelf-bending bottles under the false assumption that heavy bottles means better wines. But still, most of the wines at the LCBO sell for less than C$15 so the move will have a big impact from a volume perspective on reducing carbon emissions of the wine trade. Perhaps the move will encourage high-volume producers to opt for lighter bottles for all of North America, the same way Kleenex and other produces have French written on them when producers want labeling compliance for all US and Canada with a single package.
What do you think: brilliant move or despicable over-regulation?
Already the largest producer of wine bottle corks, ripped from the bark of trees in Portugal, now they want their corks back!
Amorim operates a newish program under the name ReCORK America that claims to keep post-consumer corks out of landfills, a laudable goal. They have already signed up some Whole Foods locations in Northern California and they recently announced the addition of American Airlines Admirals Club lounges. Soon to be heard in taxis everywhere, “Yes, honey, I’ve got the passports but let’s go back and grab the corks and bring them to the lounge!”
Despite language in the press release to the contrary, ReCORK America currently has no specific plans on what to do with the corks they receive other than to store them in a warehouse in Napa, as stated on their web site. Contacted via email to see if their plans had congealed, they only pointed out that their partners pay to ship the corks back to the warehouse.
By contrast, the green building firm in Missouri, Yemm & Hart has collected almost 8,000 pounds (about one million corks) of post consumer corks since 2004. They make them into cork tiles for flooring and are still accepting donations. Let’s hope one day they start making cork iPhone cases!
With 13 billion corks pulled from wine bottles every year by Amorim’s estimate, there are still a lot of corks headed to landfills. Because corks are a natural product, they can also be shredded and used as mulch in the garden or added to compost as a way to keep them out of landfills. And don’t forget cork art!
Things are heating up in the Mosel–and it’s not just global warming. Mike Steinberger posted on Slate about planned demonstrations last Friday to protest a “four-lane, mile-long highway bridge across the Mosel river, a project that threatens a handful of Germany’s most celebrated vineyards.” Manfred Prüm, Willi Schaefer, Markus Molitor, and Erni Loosen were to be in attendance, as will wine writers Hugh Johnson and Stuart Pigott. Check out his excellent overview piece.
Decanter has a wrap on the event in which a Green party member decries the bridge as simply stimulus money. Johnson is quoted saying, “Bridges have been built from nowhere to nowhere, but don’t let that happen. Don’t think that this can’t be stopped.” And to top it off, the bridge as depicted in the above rendering is an anodyne collection of matchsticks, not even a soaring Calatrava creation!
The bridge would shorten the commute from Belgium and Holland to the Frankfurt-Hahn airport. Opponents of the bridge say it would shave only 30 minutes of the journey. The state of Rheinland-Pfalz seeks to turn the airport into a cargo hub. But it already is a hub for Ryanair, the low-cost carrier that even charges for printing boarding passes, collecting lost and found, and threatens charging for on-board toilets!
If this burns you up, Stuart Pigott, for his part, previously was reported to have supported the burning of a puppet representing the state prime minister of the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, Kurt Beck, in effigy. (Where does one get a good effigy these days?) But if you want to try another, less-combustible approach, you could try writing to the Chancellor. We received a somewhat cheesy sample letter here today, which is reproduced after the jump. Read more…
After uncorking a bottle and enjoying the wine, probably most people throw the cork in the trash. Certainly there’s worse waste: It’s not as if there are junkyards full of corks, and since they are the bark of oak trees, they are biodegradable. But surely we can do better than simply throw them away. Here are ten ideas!
Well, not exactly make water, which, of course is free from the tap. But I received a carbonating contraption known as SodaStream that adds some sparkle to your H2O. Fill a one-liter bottle with water, twist onto the nozzle, press button three times and voila! Sparkling water! Just like an old-fashioned seltzer water maker. After making probably close to a hundred liters of such water now, I find it to be very good (though it is best to carbonate immediately before consuming) and convenient (no running out of sparkling water).
And, of course, it’s low carbon footprint! As an offset to my wine consumption, I gave up bottled water almost entirely last year and it was the sparkling water that I missed most. Now it’s great to have it back on my table. In fact, since grape fermentation produces both alcohol and carbon dioxide, I’ll be looking out for the first carbonation cartridge that comes from captured fermentation CO2!
As to the pricing, it’s about $100 for the Fountain Jet model that I got with two cartridges and a refillable bottle (but having extra bottles helps since you can just keep them full in the fridge; UPDATE–enter code SODAGIFT to get $25 off a new soda maker for the holidays). At 50-60 liters of carbonation per $15 cartridge, or $0.25 a bottle, it’s neither as cheap as tap water nor as cheap as I would like, but it’s less expensive than bottled water–and lower carbon footprint, clearly, without the trucks hauling glass bottles and water from Maine or the Alps.
Now if only I can get the courage up to try carbonating still wines, then I’ll really be undercutting the market price for bubbly!
As a part of the launch to their new exhibit “Climate Change: The Threat To Life and A New Energy Future,” I’ll participate on a panel at the American Museum of Natural History about wine and climate change on October 28. Gregory Jones, a leading researcher on how climate change affects wine growing regions, will be flying in from Southern Oregon University. I’ll be talking my own research findings about the carbon footprint of wine. And Evan Springarn of David Bowler Wines, an importer and distributor, will talk about the various shades of eco-wines. Best of all, he’ll be bringing four such wines for us to taste!
Head on over to the AMNH web site to book your tickets ($20) now and prepare to stimulate the mind and the palate.