Environment and Sustainability

Wine and spirit businesses are increasingly aware of the important contribution they can make towards building a greener economy, from reducing carbon emissions and cutting packaging waste to the role that vineyards can play in protecting biodiversity.

As the world’s largest importer of wine, the UK buys in around 1.2 billion bottles a year, contributing more than 630,000 tonnes of glass to the UK waste stream, most of which is disposed of as household waste. The spirit industry requires an estimated 170,000 tonnes of (mainly glass) primary packaging every year.

Producer Responsibility laws require businesses to ensure the waste from the products they produce is reused and recycled but many businesses are going far beyond legal requirements and are actively engaged in a wide range of initiatives to promote environmental sustainability and reduce waste.  Businesses can reap significant commercial benefits, such as lower energy costs, through changes to greener business practices.   The WSTA works with WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) and others to help businesses maximise these opportunities. 

 Reducing glass waste

Alongside partners in the international wine sector and WRAP, the WSTA has promoted initiatives to encourage more wine importers and retailers to bulk import wine, invest in lighter weight glass bottles and those made of higher recycled content and consider alternative packaging material to glass.  

A successful project called GlassRite Wine, which was jointly initiated by the WSTA and WRAP reduced the tonnage of green glass entering the UK and going to landfill. Since 2006, the project has achieved glass savings of more than 27,000 tonnes per year, an increase of 190 million bottles of wine bulk imported to the UK and over 25, 000 tonnes of domestic green cullet used. Building on this, the WSTA also supported the WRAP’s ‘Going Green’ research Project, to ascertain consumer reaction to the wider use of green glass in the wine and spirit sector.

WRAP’s GlassRite Directory enables those specifying bottles to easily source lightweight bottles that can help cut costs and improve resource efficiency. The directory includes bottles for spirits, wines, beer, cider and perry. Users can search for the following bottle attributes: capacity, height, diameter and neck type, as well as manufacturer, country of origin, bottle style, colour, closure and weight.

The directory includes the lightest 30% of bottles available on the international market for each bottle type, based on data provided by international glass manufacturers. For example the cut off weight is: 210g for 330ml beer bottles, 440g for 700ml spirits bottles, and 450g for 750ml wine bottles.

Click here to access the GlassRite Directory.

WRAP also has an online glass collection directory to help businesses in the hospitality sector identify waste collection companies that provide glass recycling collections in their area. 

Visit the WRAP website for more detail. 

Packaging Waste: Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) Prices

UK businesses that make or use packaging must ensure a proportion of the packaging they place on the market is recovered and recycled.

Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) provide evidence that waste packaging material has been recycled into a new product.  Businesses who are covered by the UK’s packaging waste regulations – obligated businesses -  are classified as those that handle 50 tonnes of packaging materials or packaging in the previous calendar year and have a turnover more than £2 million a year (based on the last financial year’s accounts).  Obligated businesses meet their obligation by acquiring PRNs, usually buying them themselves or using compliance schemes who buy PRNs on their behalf.

PRNs can be issued by accredited re-processors when they have recovered and recycled a tonne of packaging material. The accredited re-processor can sell the Packaging Recovery Note to obligated companies or Compliance Schemes who use the Packaging Recovery Note to prove that packaging material, measured in tonnes, has been recycled on their behalf, or on their members’ behalf.

In order that WSTA members have the latest information on PRN prices, a weekly update on PRN prices is available by clicking here.

Contributing to a low carbon economy

The Climate Change Act 2008 made the UK the first country in the world to set legally binding ‘carbon budgets’, aiming to cut carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming, by at least 80 per cent by 2050.   The sector is working to play its part in meeting these targets.

The global wine industry has developed a ‘Wine Industry Greenhouse Gas Calculator’, a free, easy-to-use, calculator to measure the carbon footprint of the wine sector. 

Click here to access the International Wine Industry Greenhouse Gas Accounting Calculator.
The WSTA has also developed a Transport Carbon Calculator to enable organisations to calculate the carbon emissions associated with the transportation of their products.


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Stephen Finch from @VagabondWines joins @TroyChristen @EnotriaCoe and @UKHospKate @UKHofficial for our panel Q+A

Phil explains that on-trade opportunities for wine are there for retailers, as long as a premium offer goes hand in…

‘1 in 5 spirits in the on-trade are now gin’ @CGA_insights

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