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Bottles are bad for the planet. What’s a conscientious wine lover to do?

How to Drink Better: Buy your beer in cans, your everyday wine in bag-in-box and your expensive age-worthy wines in lightweight glass bottles

How can I drink wine and beer in a climate-conscious way?

By far the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases is not shipping the wine or beer, as many people think, but making the bottle itself. It takes a huge amount of energy to produce a glass bottle, including mining raw materials such as sand and heating it to high temperatures. You should make sure to recycle every bottle you use. Even so, recycling a bottle still requires a lot of energy. You should certainly refuse to buy wine in heavy bottles, which are still seen as a mark of quality in some countries. Climate-conscious producers use lighter glass.

A few go-ahead producers such as Torres and Gonzalez Byass in Spain are looking at returnable bottles, a great idea, but it requires buy-in from a large number of producers as well as restaurants. But it should be manageable; in the past many beer and soft drink bottles were returned by pubs to the distributor.

Plastic bottles are lighter and therefore cheaper to transport, but as we are all aware these days, they are made from fossil fuels and break down into harmful microparticles.


Aluminium cans are lighter and therefore easier to transport and are fully recyclable.

Most of our craft beer producers have switched to cans but very few wine producers. Is it a step too far?

We have a resistance to bag-in-box, but the technology has improved immensely and in some countries such as Sweden they account for more than 50 per cent of wine sales. Bag-in-box are inexpensive to produce and to ship, weigh very little, and are recyclable and even reusable in some cases. While wine will not age further once put into a polythene bag, BIBs will keep your wine fresh for weeks after being opened.

As for shipping wine, many less expensive wines are now transported around the world in giant plastic bladders and bottled only when they reach their destination.

Overall the message seems to be: buy your beer in cans, your everyday wine in bag-in-box (if you can find it) and your expensive age-worthy wines in lightweight glass bottles.