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Wine and spirit businesses are setting a corking example in green initiatives

Environment | 14 November, 2019

Wine and spirit businesses based in the UK are committed to combating climate change using innovative and ground-breaking techniques to reduce their carbon footprint.

From importing wine in bulk and lightweight bottling, sourcing ingredients locally, solar panels to growing cork forests and using mash waste from spirits in animal feed – a series of inspiring green initiatives have been published in a new industry Environmental best practice booklet.

In partnership with its members the Wine and Spirit Trade Association has taken a snapshot of how the trade is working for a more sustainable industry by reducing emissions, optimising electricity and water usage and minimising waste. The booklet captures best practices from across the world, saving an equivalent one million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions!

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“We are pleased to release the WSTA’s first sustainable best practice workbook which pulls together an array of practice and knowledge from across our membership. I hope it will act as a resource for understanding, allow business to identify areas of improvement, act as a tool for stakeholders with an interest in the wine and spirit industry, and further the effectiveness of our industry’s efforts to bring about transformational change.”

The document reveals that concerted efforts from both wine and spirit businesses, big and small, are world leading and achieving many of the 17 UN Sustainability Goals.

Methods used to meet ambitious targets include:

  • Shipping wine in bulk triples the volume transported in one container. Wine shipped in bulk to the UK saves 137g carbon per bottle. Over the last 10 years the amount of wine imported in bulk to the UK has doubled.
  • Cork forests are an excellent example of the balance between preserving the environment and sustainable development. The tree isn’t felled during the stripping of cork and the tree actually absorbs more CO2 as a result – so harvesting from a living cork tree contributes to reducing greenhouse emissions.
  • Lightweight glass bottles reduce CO2 transport emissions – One supermarket alone saved 79 tonnes of glass in a year. Plus, more sustainable packaging using recycled or reduced packaging materials.
  • Sourcing ingredients, energy and water locally. For example, sending mash waste created in whisky production for animal feed for local farms.
  • A number of businesses help mitigate against their CO2 footprints by planting trees, encouraging biodiversity and supporting the local and national charities, such as the Woodland Trust.
  • Substantial investment in renewable energy by building wine turbines, solar panels and bio-energy plants. One wine company now boasts using 90% renewable energy and another aims to be 100% next year.
  • Investment in agriculture techniques, ground moisture monitoring water treatment, smart irrigation and grey water reuse are all utilised to make marginal gains and reduce excess energy and resource usage.
  • Promoting wildlife and biodiversity through providing habitats for a wide variety of flora and fauna on vineyards and in fields growing ingredients in spirit making particularly botanicals. Plus, plenty of work to promote and protect bee and other insect populations.

All of these examples and more, and information about the companies driving these initiatives can be found in the WSTA Wine and Spirit Environmental Best Practice booklet.

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