The Economist recently had an interesting article on their website about eco-friendly packaging of wine. The added weight of a glass wine bottle compared with a plastic bottle (a glass wine bottle is about eight times heavier) has prompted some wine producers to consider the use of plastic or tetra-pak bottles. This reduces the cost of transportation of both the empty and full containers; the heavier the load the greater the fuel usage.
The debate as to whether this will become widely acceptable and whether or not it is an environmentally better form of packaging centres around a number of issues in addition to the cost of fuel for transportation:
- the association of boxed wine with lower quality
- the use of oil to produce plastic bottles
- the ‘aging’ of wine in tetra-pak or plastic and the increased permeability to oxygen when compared with glass
- the recyclability of tetra-pak (there are a number of collection centres for recycling tetra-pak, but they are not normally collected with the household recycling; check out this website for your nearest recycling centre)
- the energy consumed in the manufacture of glass bottles