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Plastic wine bottles - what's your view?

By Sarah Groves, also posted in News on

Pulpit Rock PET wine bottlesAlastair Marshall, Adnams Senior Wine Buyer, has added two new wines from Pulpit Rock Winery in South Africa made from PET bottles to the Adnams wine range. You are probably most familiar with PET in the form of soft drinks bottles - you can recognise PET by the recycling triangle symbol with the number 1 inside. It's also commonly used to make packing trays and synthetic fibres. PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) is a thermoplastic polymer resin of the polyester family and is one of the most widely recycled forms of plastic. When recycled, it's commonly reborn as polyester fibre as well as strapping and non-food containers.

Why put wine into plastic?

The Brink Family has been farming in the Riebeek Valley in South Africa for over 50 years. Pulpit Rock Winery, South AfricaThey built their winery in 2003, choosing to invest in top quality equipment and technology. Pulpit Rock itself refers to a rock formation resembling a pulpit situated in the mountains above the winery. The family are keen to explore innovative technologies and were amongst the first to supply wine in lightweight PET bottles for the export trade. As a company working hard to be a sustainable business, we're interested in the concept of PET bottles: •    PET bottles are lightweight. The weight of a six bottle case is reduced by an average of 2.5kg compared to glass bottles. •    They are robust, shatterproof and tough. If you accidentally drop one, they are unlikely to break. •    The wine inside has a 12-24 month shelf-life - ideal for fast-moving wines, but not suitable for fine wines. •    PET has a reduced carbon footprint compared to glass. PET uses less energy than glass to create and emits less during transport because of the reduced weight. •    PET bottles have no taste or smell - a must-have for wine. •    PET is 100% recyclable. Alastair comments: “When you think about it, it is the obvious thing to do! Why would anybody move pallet loads of glass bottles half way across the world when a cheaper alternative exists. I deliberately say cheaper because the economic imperative is unarguable whereas the eco-case is an affair for the conscience and you probably know where Adnams sits on that front. So, if I ship one pallet of glass bottles I get 600 of them turning up in Southwold. If it is in plastic bottles then I am looking at 900 bottles for the same freight rate. You do the maths!“ Adnams' Environmental Sustainability Manager, Ben Orchard, explains the environmental benefits: Recycling ID symbol for PET"The energy consumption required to produce PET is a lot lower than that for glass – this in turn with the material processing required in producing glass means PET production has much lower carbon emissions. Aside from production PET bottles will also carry lower carbon emissions associated with its transport, owing to its significantly lighter weight. Out of all the plastics, PET is also the most widely recycled given its ease to break down and form new products, it may even end up as another bottle. Overall, PET is a packaging material with obvious environmental positives and it is great to see innovations and reductions in this sector as it can often be the source of unnecessary waste.” Pulpit Rock Chenin / Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet / Shiraz are available at £6.59 at Adnams Cellar & Kitchen Stores and online. What's your view on the relative merits of glass and PET as a container for wine? Let us know what you think in the comments box below.  


Sarah Groves