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  • Guest Blogger - Sustainability - The Human Factor

    September 30, 2022 3 min read

    Guest Blogger - Sustainability - The Human Factor

    Part 2: Sustainability - The Human Factor

    To quote Buddha: “What we think, we become.” The voice of our conscience concerning the environment has been loudly expressed, not least by our youth who rephrased the environment with our environment, placing us in the driving seat of the electric car.

    As we assume more responsibility for how we can make a difference to sustain our planet, we are having a more positive impact on the wine world.



    Greater public awareness of the human influence on our environment coupled with the climate’s impact has seen the push by producers to market their eco credentials in their marketing to a growing receptive audience of customers. 

    For over forty years we have had the bag-in-the box offering as an alternative to glass.  Often packaged in several litre containers and containing wines for casual enjoyment at the beach and picnics.  The benefits of lighter and more sustainable packaging to glass bottles were starkly highlighted to me in my interview with a famous Burgundy producer in the early noughties.  They were launching a carton similar in appearance to the litre milk carton for his family’s wine from the Languedoc. Some of the many benefits cited were fuel and emissions reduction.  The contrast of a single lorry transporting empty cartons to a winery to be filled compared with the equivalent of twenty-five lorries carrying empty bottles.  Similarly, using wine in cartons in Duty Free Airports and for service on aeroplanes reduced the weight compared with glass. 

    Plastic bottles (or PET, short for polyethylene terephthalate/ polyester) and Multi-Layered PET (MLP) bottles have been used at airports for several years.  All of the aforementioned containers are suitable for wines intended for early consumption.  This reflects our current practice.  The majority of wine we consume in Ireland is enjoyed within 24 hours of purchase.

    Other innovations in sustainable packaging include the use of natural dye on labels and eco-friendly recycled packaging.  However, the debate continues on consumers’ priorities between the aesthetic bio-degradable cork versus a taint-free-guarantee screw-top STELVIN® closure.



    It is sometimes overlooked about the integral and pivotal role a wine region has on sustaining the local community with all its traditions and heritage and often in the most remote locations.  A key factor facilitating this is that unlike most crops, vines thrive in poorly nourished but well-drained soils.  A vine will tolerate poor soils and steep landscapes that would not sustain most other agricultural crops.  If the vine senses its life is threatened, it will produce more grapes to boost its chances of survival.  Also, the vine will develop roots to delve deeper into the subsoil to find nutrients and water, up to 9 metres/ 30 feet in cases, making it more resistant to drought.  Whereas, in fertile soils, vines would produce more foliage than fruit with a lazy root system where the roots remain near the surface to source nutrients and water.  The loss in the resulting wine is the expression of terroir and the risk of death during periods of drought.

    The third and final blog on Sustainability will look at how the wine industry is future-proofing itself with some very innovative and daring policies and practices.

    Acknowledgements: Wine Spectator and Reuters.

    Liam Campbell, Judge at international wine & drinks competitions.