The Wine Debate: Glass vs. Plastic

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In an effort to move towards more sustainable packaging, Sutter Homes Winery is now using PET bottles for all of its 187-mL wine bottles sold in the U.S, according to Greener Packaging. But Sutter Homes isn’t the first winery to make the big switch.

Australia-based Foster’s Group decided to change its packaging for its new “Green label” brand wines from glass to plastic. With this move, the company expects to cut greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the bottle by 29 percent.

Photo: Countryliving.com

Glass containers come in four different colors: clear, blue, brown and green; glass must be separated by color to ensure that new glass is not created from a mix of colors. Photo: Countryliving.com

However, a study commissioned by plastic bottle maker Portavin found that while bottling wine in recycled plastic may be better for the environment, it hinders the quality of the wine.

In comparison to glass bottling, PET bottles use less greenhouse emissions due to their light weight. However, Portavin says that plastic is only good for up to 12 months when used as wine packaging. Some wines even begin to oxidize as early as eight months.

But while the trend is growing, Portavin says it is unlikely that it will catch on and become a mainstream concept.

“PET is fine for wine you plan to use under 12 months, but not for wines that are designed to improve in the bottle,” Portavin’s Managing Director Ian Matthews tells Reuters. “It’s highly unlike plastic will ever take over from glass because the PET format doesn’t suit every style of wine.”

On the bright side, glass recycling is much easier today compared to 20 years ago as it is 40 percent lighter. In fact, Americans recycle nearly 13 million glass jars and bottles every day.

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