· By Georgia Pearson
Sustainable Wine Solutions 🍷
The world of sustainability has moved on from ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’. Nowadays, two more guiding “Rs” are incorporated: ‘Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot’. With this in mind, single use wine bottles have stumped many green-minded hospitality businesses. Recycle sounds like problem solved, sure, but what about the energy required to take a wine bottle away, turn it back into sand, only to rise from the ashes as a very similar looking wine bottle? With no or few other options to Refuse or Reduce (short of not drinking wine at all - the horror!), Sustainable Wine Solutions - the brainchild of Borough Wines - saw an opportunity to intercept the hierarchy of Rs before we reach the Recycle stage.
They have a three-pronged approach to the problem: a bottle return scheme, and two formats of kegged wine on tap. For the bottle return scheme, each bottle is collected, sterilised and reused up to 30 times! In doing so they reduce each bottle’s carbon footprint by ~95%. The collection itself means that logistics chains are able operate close to 100% capacity, and by collecting bottles in reusable plastic crates, cardboard is taken out of the equation too. Kegged wine is possibly an even more elegant solution. By refusing over 26 glass bottles per keg it's perhaps the most sustainable form of drinks dispense. And as a beer centred business, kegged wine slots into Crate’s operation seamlessly. By the end of the month, our wine list will be entirely made up of returnable bottles and kegs from Sustainable Wine Solutions!
Divorcing ourselves from the idea of single-use glass is nothing new to the White Building. Upstairs in our zero waste restaurant Silo, single use wine packaging is the largest waste stream to contend with. One outlet is a partnership with inventive pottery studio Potter’s Thumb, also based in the building. The pottery crushes bottles, grades the sand that comes out, and uses it to produce ‘glass porcelain’. Using moulds, they create tiles, light fixtures and place settings amongst other things - transforming the “waste” spent bottles into a high-value, sparkling/translucent material.
Another avenue for Silo’s bottles will be as alternatives to carafes in Crate’s bar. Buying 750ml of wine on tap at Crate? We’ll serve it to you in a sterilised ex-Silo bottle, eliminating the need for carafes.
“But what about the wine?” I hear you cry… Sustainable Wine Solutions partner with minimal intervention growers - many of whom farm biodynamically, organically, and with the least impact on the terroir possible. So it’s not just the vessel, the wine production itself is better for the environment. Their growers are committed to reducing their waste output, and to practicing the most sustainable grape growing and winemaking techniques - “combining the quality control benefits of a commercial bottling and kegging line with an artisan approach”. That’s why we’ve chosen to work with them. And all sustainability virtue aside, we think they taste great too.