The glass industry responded today to a call to switch away from glass wine bottles which appeared in the Financial Times on February 21st.
Michel Giannuzzi, President of FEVE, the European Container Glass Federation and CEO of Verallia Packaging said that the industry was surprised at the piece by wine correspondent Jancis Robinson, who also published the piece on her website, and urged her to not write off glass quite yet.
In a letter to Ms Robinson, Giannuzzi states that no other packaging material comes close to glass in recyclability, health and taste preservation and has been providing these benefits to mankind for over 5,000 years.
Responding to Ms Robinson’s call to wine drinkers to switch away from glass bottles for environmental reasons, Giannuzzi highlighted how glass has been continually innovating and is now 30% lighter than ever before, is 70% less energy intensive and emits 50% less CO2 than fifty years ago. He also explains how the industry is currently investing massively in exploring new breakthrough technologies to make production carbon-neutral – and working across the value chain to ensure maximum recycled content is used in all new bottles.
In answer to Ms Robinson’s claim that glass recycling rates in the UK are ‘around 50%’ Giannuzzi explains that latest industry figures are actually 67% and that far more glass is recycled than the alternative plastic pouches or cartons for wine proposed in the article. In fact, these alternatives struggle to be recycled at all thanks to their multi-material composition.
Highlighting the glass industry’s journey towards carbon neutrality, Giannuzzi says that Europe’s extensive network of glass manufacturing plants ensure the supply of bottles for vineyard customers is close to hand. In addition, raw materials such as sand are sustainably and locally sourced, helping to further reduce the carbon footprint.
Giannuzzi concludes by inviting Ms Robinson to be his guest at one of the glass production facilities, so she can witness how the industry is meeting the global sustainability challenge.
Dr Nick Kirk, Technical Director of British Glass, comments:
“While we certainly acknowledge Jancis Robinson is a leading expert on wine and entitled to her opinion, we respectfully decline to agree with her on our area of expertise – glass packaging.
“As Michel Giannuzzi points out in his response to her article, there are many reasons why glass remains to be the best choice for wine.
“While simple comparisons with other seemingly suitable alternatives may put other packaging materials in a more favourable light, when the whole picture is considered, this is not the case and a glass is the ideal packaging solution for wine. And surely what we certainly don’t need is hard to recycle packaging that will impact on our environment for many years to come”.