Home Lifestyle Receipes From bag-in-box to plastic and paper bottles: Meet the brand eliminating glass from wine packaging

From bag-in-box to plastic and paper bottles: Meet the brand eliminating glass from wine packaging

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From bag-in-box to plastic and paper bottles: Meet the brand eliminating glass from wine packaging

Globally, the wine industry is estimated to have a carbon footprint of 1.6m tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

While not considered a major contributor to increasing CO2 emissions – for some context, civil aviation is responsible for 22m tonnes of CO2 equivalent – it remains a significant source.

Much of the industry’s footprint comes from packaging. In wine, 39% of all emissions come from the manufacture and transport of glass. It seems like a simple win for producers and wine labels to reimagine glass packaging in order to lower their carbon footprint.

British start-up When in Rome, which imports Italian craft wine for UK consumers, sees the potential. The challenger brand discovered what customers want from innovative packaging through trial and error.

Bag-in-box yields ‘massive’ reduction in carbon emissions

When in Rome shunned glass bottles from the get-go. “Our goal is to eliminate [glass bottles] in the wine industry,” Rob Malin from When in Rome told attendees at the Future Summit, hosted by Bread and Jam.

The majority of When in Rome wine is now sold in the UK in a 2. 25L bag-in-box format. The packaging (excluding the tap) is 100% recyclable, and produces 10 times fewer carbon emissions than the average wine bottle. The start-up ships all of its products by train from Italy to the UK to reduce airmiles, and other emissions.

wine bottles Image Source

When in Rome is on a mission to eradicate glass bottles from the wine industry. GettyImages/Image Source

Through a partnership with Carbon Cloud, When in Rome is now adding carbon labels to its products. Analysing the bag-in box Sauvignon Bianco wine revealed that it has a 2. 25L format yields a climate footprint of 0. 69kg CO2e/kg.

This score is a ‘massive’ reduction of 41% in carbon production compared to the same wine packaged in a single-use glass bottle, according to the start-up, which is responsible for 1. 18kg CO2e/kg.

Challenges facing alt packaging for wine

One challenge facing the start-up is reduced demand for rose wine in the bag-in-box format. ” Only about 5% is rose,” Malin explained to delegates. ” This is a completely different situation for other wine businesses.

“All throughout the summer we sell a very small amount of rose and that’s because people buy it on sight.”

Malin suggested that consumers in the UK tend to opt for pale roses. A bag-in-a-box packaging cannot provide this information. This is because they desire to be able to view the color of the wine prior buying it.

A flat plastic bottle could be a solution. The colour of wine will be clearly visible because it is plastic.

The idea behind a flat-shaped bottle was to be ordered online and sent via Royal Mail by post through the letterbox.

It was a “fabulous piece packaging”, Malin said. “However, it was difficult to gain sales momentum. It went one step beyond what people thought wine should look like. Rome took it off the market.

Paper bottle unwrapped

As suggested by the plastic bottle experiment, no matter how much more eco-friendly a product and its packaging may be, it will only make a positive impact if the consumer accepts it.

Bag-in-box wine is a ‘very’ popular format in ‘a lot’ of countries, explained Malin, “It accounts for about 65% of the wine sold in Sweden, 40% in France, and 3% in the UK.”

Given that 97% of wine sold is the UK is in glass bottles, When in Rome is working to grow the bag-in-box category on home soil. The company is currently investigating why some consumers are less likely to switch to sustainable packaging.

One reason might be the price, Malin suggested at the Bread and Jam event. A 2. 25L bag-in-box format contains three bottles-worth of wine, making it understandably more expensive than single 750ml bottles on-shelf. When in Rome added a paper bottle and can-in-box formats to their existing range of bag-in boxes. This allows them to be competitive with mainstream wine companies.


When in Rome’s new paper bottle is made from 94% recycled paper. Image source: When in Rome

An industry first, the paper bottle – made from 94% recycled paper – is the result of a collaboration between When in Rome and British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac.

It’s basically a bag that looks like a bottle. Malin explained. Ocado has listed the format and consumers have responded in a completely different way to When in Rome’s plastic bottles.

How does the shape of the paper bottle compare with the sustainability credentials for When in Rome’s bag/in-box products. The CEO of the start-up said that it doesn’t perform as well. “It is more carbon-intensive and [due to the partnership with Carbon Cloud], its value lies in the packaging.

One reason is logistics. Frugalpac manufactures the paper bottles in Ipswitch. Once they have been filled with wine, they return to the UK to be sold. Malin acknowledged that it was a suboptimal supply chain and stressed that brands must improve their processes.

“Once you publish [the footprint], you have to start reducing it over time.”

While it may be more carbon intensive than the bag-in-box format, the new packaging is significantly less intensive than the classic alternative. The paper bottle has a carbon footprint 84% lower than a single-use glass bottle.

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