• Andre Morgenthal
Communications Manager, Wines of SA
+27 21 883 3860
The introduction of new, lighter wine bottles for red and white wines will help the South African wine industry reduce its carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
Wine bottles have become increasingly lighter over the years – a mere four years ago a 750ml bottle tipped the scales at an average of 516g, and by 2009 it had dropped to 437g, but the new screw-capped bottles weigh in at just 350g each.
Cork-sealed bottles have also slimmed down, reduced in weight from 570g to 460g.
The new bottles are expected to be available around April 2010, in time for the annual harvest.
The 370g bottle is the lightest bottle on the market at the moment and has already garnered a trophy for sustainability at the annual Gold Pack award ceremony, held by the
Among these are the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative, which is a partnership between the wine and conservation sectors, protecting precious indigenous flora in the species-rich
A number of wine estates have set up their own green projects, such as Backsberg, which is one of only a handful of winemakers worldwide that are carbon neutral, and which in 2008 launched its educational Earth Centre, also home to environmental NGO Food and Trees for Africa.
Hein Koegelenberg, CEO of Leopard’s Leap wines, which is known for its tireless conservation of
South African wines are generally doing well overseas. In the
Foreign exchange earnings from wine exports totalled over R6-billion (US$779-million) in 2008.
South African wines have also made inroads in
In 2009 the export of packaged South African wine grew 7% year-on-year, while export of bulk wine dropped by 18% to 150.5-million litres – in total 389-million litres of wine left the country last year.
The wine industry takes a large toll on the environment. Not only does actual production have a substantial impact, but transportation of the finished product, often over vast distances, creates significant carbon emissions.
The new wine bottle is expected to reduce emissions simply by being lighter, resulting in lower fuel consumption.
This smoothly addresses the problem facing the local wine industry in terms of increasing output and expert volumes while operating in a responsible manner.
“It becomes a delicate balancing act to enhance our sustainability profile while pushing up our output,” said Wines of
Then why not supply overseas bottlers with wine in bulk and cut down transportation-related emissions in that way? Because, explained Birch, South African jobs would be lost – for every 10-million litres of bulk wine sent overseas, 107 jobs would be shed, and in the current economic climate too many have been lost already.
And taking into account that breadwinners have dependants, and associated services would also be affected, such a step would devastate many lives. Almost 276 000 people are currently directly employed by the wine industry.
Consumers, too, are doing their bit to save the planet. Many will choose an eco-friendly brand of wine over one that is less so, and savvy supermarkets and wine shops are eager to accommodate them.