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PET bottles at The Wine Society: a quick introduction
A guide to this lower-carbon packaging format, one part of our efforts to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.
What is a PET bottle? PET is short for polyethylene terephthalate, a strong, lightweight plastic which has been used to package food and drink since the 1970s. It’s the kind of bottle that you see used most commonly for soft drinks and sparkling water. We’re actually using recycled PET (rPET) bottles which are made from 100% recycled PET plastic.
Are rPET plastic bottles better for the environment than glass? It’s not quite as simple as that – but in some ways, yes. Our recent packaging report showed that rPET bottles have a significantly lower carbon footprint than single-use glass bottles; they’re less energy-intensive to make, smaller and less breakable than glass so can be packed more tightly, and of course significantly lighter (63g compared to an average of 460g for glass bottles).
Does it affect the taste of the wine? No – as it’s inert, it won’t change the flavours of the wine at all. We’re trialling rPET bottles only on wines which are made to be drunk young, so we recommend drinking them within six months to get them at their best.
Does using PET bottles mean we’re producing more plastic? No – because the bottles we are using are rPET, they’re made from 100% recycled PET plastic which means no new PET plastic is manufactured. It’s a ‘closed loop’ system; these bottles made of recycled plastic are then further recycled. The caps and the labels can’t currently be sourced in recycled plastic; we’ll continue to work on this.
So I can recycle the bottles when they’re finished? Absolutely! Just screw the cap back on and pop the bottle into your home recycling bin.
Is it safe for wine to be stored in plastic? Yes. rPET is a stable and inert material, just like glass. The bottles we’re using are fully certified by the EFSA (Europe) and FDA (USA), meaning they’ve passed the most rigorous testing available to be classified as ‘food contact approved’, and rPET is BPA-free.
Fleurie, one of Beaujolais' most famous crus, meaning 'flowery', captures the...
Case of 12
How long can I store wine in rPET bottles? The exact length of time depends on factors like how the wine is stored and how it’s been shipped and bottled. We’re learning more ourselves over the course of the trial but as a starting point, we recommend members enjoy their wine in rPET within the first six months after purchase.
Is it the same shape as a normal glass wine bottle? No – the bottles we’re using are flattened (they’re just over 9cm wide, and only 4cm deep), making them an even better shape for lower carbon shipping and storage – as they pack flat, we can fit around 20 extra cases on a pallet.
Are there other advantages to rPET bottles? Convenience! Easier to store in your fridge or cupboard, lighter to pop into a bag to take to a picnic or dinner, and they’ll take up less room in your recycling bin.
Are rPET bottles the future of sustainable wine packaging? rPET bottles are just one of the ideas we’re exploring as an alternative to carbon-heavy glass. But just because plastic is one of the best options we have to reduce carbon emissions right now, that doesn't mean it always will be. We will continuously explore and test new and exciting ways to make our packaging more sustainable.
Where can I find more details on rPET bottles, and The Wine Society’s complete plans for alternative packaging? You can read all about the research we did on rPET bottles, Bag-in-Box and other alternative packaging formats, and what our subsequent plans are in our Alternative Packaging Report. Find out about all of our sustainability plans at our Sustainability Hub.