There are many ways to make our practices more sustainable and lessen our impact on the earth. In the wine business the simplest thing we can do is use fewer resources, ship less wine, and sell more wine locally. Here are some facts about the benefits of refilling wine bottles as opposed to recycling them.
- Over 71% of all recyclable wine-bottles in the US never make it to the recycling plant. They end up in landfills. 
- 45% of a winery’s carbon footprint is due to its use of glass bottles. 
- In the European Union, the average wine bottle is used eight times before its life cycle ends (likely in an American landfill). 
- Refilling glass bottles costs less than the least-expensive one-way packaging option (waxed cardboard cartons). 
- The energy required to melt the glass in the recycling process, along with the amount of broken glass that doesn't get recycled, makes the recycling of glass bottles much less environmentally friendly than people believe it to be. 
- Nearly every industrialized nation besides the U.S. has a large-scale wine bottle collection and reuse system already in place; Denmark re-uses over 90% of its bottles. Denmark has a similar population size to Oregon . 
- Except for digging additional silica sand, the process of making new bottles and crushing and melting old bottles into new ones is virtually identical. Reusing a bottle requires only that we wash it. 
- It takes a glass bottle about 1 million years to break down in a landfill. 
- With inspection, sterilization and refilling costs, re-using glass requires only 16% of the energy required to make new bottles. 
- Re-using glass is just eco-logical. [me]
Frankly some of these facts are kind of depressing (more than 70% in landfills?!?)... but they also illustrate the obvious fact that re-using bottles is infinitely smarter than sending them on a slow-boat to China to have them crushed, melted, re-formed and then sent back to us on a slow boat to Seattle.
Save the planet while drinking? Sounds smart to me.
(1. Institute for Local Self Reliance; 2. Dr. Roger Boulton, UC Davis; 3. Bruce Stephens, Wine Bottle Recycling Inc.; 4. Bergen County Utilities - Recycling Facts; 5. Trade and Environment Database)