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New Wine Bottle Project

British Glass is working with WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) on a new project which seeks to boost the UK's glass recycling market and reduce the amount of glass waste stemming from the wine industry  by encouraging more wine importers, brand owners and retailers to bulk import wine and bottle it in lighter glass bottles manufactured in the UK.

The UK is the largest importer of wine in the world with over one billion litres imported each year from Europe and the New World, around 80% of which arrives already bottled. WRAP research suggest that the current average weight of a 75cl wine bottle is 500g, although one can find bottles of around 300g in circulation. By encouraging the lightweighting of wine bottles the amount of UK glass waste should be reduced by 20,000 tonnes.

This project builds upon the success of the original Container Lite project which was completed in April 2006. A special mention should go to Coors for successfully lightweighting its 300ml Grolsch bottle by 13%, saving 4,500 tonnes of glass waste per year.

David Workman, Director General of British Glass, said, “It is clear that the UK glass industry is fully committed to this latest initiative. Lighter bottles ultimately mean less waste as well as making important savings in raw materials and energy use which will be of significant environmental benefit.”

Bulk importation is a significantly more cost-effective method for transporting wine to the UK, especially from the New World. Shipping costs can be reduced by up to 40% and also significantly benefit the environment by using less fuel for transporting full bottles.

Wine is predominantly bottled in green glass in the country of origin and, historically, this has led to a colour imbalance issue here in the UK. At present, manufacturers produce nearly two million tonnes of container glass each year, of which 64% is clear glass and just 20% is green. If more wine is imported in bulk and bottled in green bottles produced in this country, a more robust market for the surplus green glass will be created. Where bulk importing is not feasible, the project will encourage a colour change from green to flint bottles manufactured at source in order to reduce green imports.

To demonstrate the benefits of the initiatives, a series of commercial trials will soon be underway involving major retailers such as Asda and Tesco; these will also aim to understand the barriers associated with bulk importing and lightweighting.

Andy Dawe, WRAP Glass Technology Manager explained, “Despite the concerns that some overseas suppliers may have, the UK bottling industry has plenty of capacity to both produce and fill bottles. Research at WRAP shows that an additional 10% switch will mean 55,000 tonnes less glass imported and a rise in demand for recycled green glass in the UK of 50,000 tonnes; a combined improvement of 105,000 tonnes per year. This will also improve the industry’s carbon emissions profile, whilst at the same time reducing business costs.”

The project is being overseen by a Steering Group comprising representatives from British Glass, Constellation, Quinn Glass, the Wine & Spirits Trade Association, Trans Ocean Distribution Ltd and Tesco.

Andy Gale, Category Technical Manager for Tesco, commented, “Tesco is committed to the principles of sustainable waste management: reduce, reuse and recycle. This latest initiative demonstrates how working together, the winde industry can effect practical changes that will significantly reduce our impact on the environment.”

John Corbet-Milward, Head of Technical and International Affairs at the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, added, “The wine and spirits industry is committed to exploring ways of maximising profitability whilst ensuring social and environmental awareness and feel it’s important for producers to investigate whether they can help make a difference in reducing glass waste if the economic case for doing so makes sense.”

A web-based tool has been developed by WRAP to demonstrate the strong economic and environmental savings associated with bulk importation of wine and the use of lighter weight bottles. For example, the estimated total savings if one of Australia’s major wine brands was imported in bulk and bottled in the UK would be £212,600 per year and a potential carbon saving of 300tpa – the equivalent to taking 348 cars off the road:

Notes to Editors

1 British Glass

The British Glass Manufacturers’ Confederation represents the interests of all sectors of the glass industry in the UK. Its main activity is in representing the industry at European, national and local level on a wide range of topical legislative issues. It also conducts independent research into all aspects of glass production and technology.


WRAP is a major UK programme established to promote resource efficiency, Its particular focus is on creating stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products and removing the barriers to waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.

Further Information can be obtained from:

Andy Hartley
Environmental Consultant
British Glass
9 Churchill Way
S35 2PY
Tel: 0114 290 1801/1850
Fax: 0114 290 1851


Jan-Marie Knights
Communications Manager

Issued 15 September 2006