#nofilter: Emission savings from lighter glass bottles – but don’t PET bottles save even more?

Did you know that the heaviest glass wine bottles can weigh over one kilogram, just the empty bottle? Alko’s “Eko” environmental product information includes a symbol which does not tell about the product or its production but the packaging: a lighter glass bottle.

Already back in 2008-2009 a study was conducted in Great Britain which showed that the lightest possible wine bottle suitable and durable enough for storing and transporting wine could be as light as 300 grams. As a result of that research project wine bottles of that weight class have been used there since year 2010.  It is a considerable achievement, because tradition has a powerful role in wine production and there are big cultural and country-specific differences in the weights of bottles.

How about other product categories where glass bottles are used? Some spirits producers have long been actively developing their packaging: from their own starting points they have reduced the weight of the glass they use; maybe most typically foreseeing available long term cost savings. As a customer you do not notice a difference in the quality of the end product. Also PET bottles are used in packaging from the producers’ own initiative, even if originally for other than environmental reasons.

The beer industry has a lot faster cycles and beer brands, when they want, are able to implement changes quickly. Because cost savings are available from the lighter bottles in both materials and logistics, the beer brands will most likely themselves take care of their transformation towards lighter packaging. A large share of beers is already sold in aluminium cans. And there are innovations on the horizon – compared to the beer traditions even some completely new packaging materials are being unveiled.

Then why aren’t for example PET bottles and cardboard tetras and bag-in-boxes been marked with an eco symbol at Alko, respectively? It is quite clear that packaging made of other materials than glass is lighter and thus saves logistics fuel consumption. With no intention to belittle the resulting environmental benefits, the usage of these materials has initially been adopted due to other than environmental objectives – and those packages are easily recognizable without any specific symbols.  The purpose of our ”Eko” launch is precisely to make visible the efforts of producers in their environmental work; and you simply cannot distinguish a lighter glass bottle from the ordinary ones by their looks alone. However, these max. 420 grams weighing 0,75 liter glass bottles have actually existed in Alko’s assortment since year 2013. That’s why they now gained a symbol by which you are able to use this information in choosing a product if you so prefer.

Next we will want more information about the materials and innovations of the future, and there we need industry co-operation. Maybe the drinks industry will come up with some completely new type of packaging material that we haven’t even heard of yet.

Does the packaging weight or material matter to you when you are selecting a product? You are welcome to join the discussion in Alko’s Twitter @Alko_Sustain.