By Jim Nordmeyer, Vice President of Global Sustainability, O-I
We are at a critical juncture in the consumer packaged goods space. And it can’t be ignored. The combination of product integrity, recyclability, and overall environmental impact is driving shoppers’ buying decisions.
In a “sea of same” on the shelf, more and more wine brands, in particular, are looking for ways to convey value and sustainability. Yet, the concept of “sustainability” means more than how a grape is grown and harvested or how a wine is produced. It touches the complete value chain from vine to table, and packaging plays an important role.
Beautifully crafted, pure and locally sourced, glass has an undeniably clear message: it protects and preserves the integrity of the wine that has defined North America, and particularly California, as a premium wine producing region. Glass packaging has always carried an excellent sustainability story and lends itself perfectly to a circular economy.
While many alternative packaging options have sustainability advantages, the traditional bottle is by far the most preferred choice by wine brands and consumers alike. As the world’s most endlessly recyclable packaging option, winemakers can choose glass bottles to further their sustainability commitment and convey intrinsic value to consumers.
From an environmental standpoint, glass is the most endlessly and infinitely reusable packaging option. Made in a closed loop process, it is produced entirely from all-natural, sustainable raw materials: sand, soda, ash and limestone. A glass bottle recycled in the U.S. can go from a recycling bin to a store shelf in as little as 30 days. Plus, glass bottles are inert. Unlike other forms of packaging, glass poses no negative impact on the environment. It’s non-toxic and has the least impact on polluting oceans or harming marine life.
While glass has been produced for thousands of years, today’s manufacturers continue to give it new appeal through cutting-edge improvements, design innovations and sustainability enhancements. Along with many of our peers nationwide, we continue to set and exceed rigorous sustainability goals. Numerous recycling initiatives are in place throughout the U.S. to make the entire process easier and more efficient for companies, supplier and end-users. To date, we’ve successful reduced energy and C02 emissions per container packed while increasing post-consumer recycled glass (cullet) use.
To lighten the load, glass providers are creating lighter-weight bottles to improve transportation and recyclability across the U.S., making it more affordable and ultimately better for the environment.
From a supply chain standpoint, U.S. winemakers are turning to North American glass manufacturers for the quicker, more efficient and cost-effective supply chain. These winemakers are also discovering the advantages that come with access to a network of manufacturing locations that are cost effective regardless of their location.
From an economic perspective, our U.S. customers who harvest, produce and bottle their wines domestically are continuing a sustainable circuit and creating jobs for those in their area. Similarly, glass manufacturers employ a North American workforce, supporting local economies and ensuring a consistent and high level of quality. Consumers also help to perpetuate this economic sustainability by buying local and domestic wines. And, with the booming U.S. wine market and vineyard cultivation in all 50 states, more and more people are discovering the endless options available to them, from coast to coast.