Metallic cin cin: Waitrose shelves wine bottles for aluminum cans
13 Jan 2023 --- Waitrose shoppers can expect wine cans on the shelves instead of glass bottles from January 15 onward. The supermarket is replacing most of its small wine formats – except Champagne, prosecco and cava, and Rioja – from glass bottles to aluminum cans as part of its ambition to reduce its carbon footprint.
“Aluminum cans weigh significantly less than glass and create less than half the amount of CO2 than the equivalent single-use glass bottle. Cans can also be recycled an infinite number of times,” says Barry Dick, beer, wine and spirit bulk sourcing manager at Waitrose.
Waitrose reports in 2022, customers purchased nearly three million small bottles of wine across both still and sparkling categories. As such, the supermarket estimates that switching to aluminum packaging instead of glass will save over 300 metric tons of glass packaging in the first year.
“We know that more people are buying their drinks in canned formats from cocktails on the go to craft beer which is why making this shift in our wine category makes so much sense,” explains Dick.
Highlighting the ease of canned wine format, he says it can be picked up for a picnic on-the-go. “It also enables customers to try a new variety without worrying about wastage or cost. We hope the move will encourage suppliers to continue to develop a diverse range of wines in cans.”
“Canned wine is your friend”
Waitrose’s new canned range will include Most Wanted Sauvignon Blanc, When in Rome Pinot Grigio, Terre di Faiano Primitivo, JP Chenet Pinot Noir, Hardy’s Shiraz, Bijou Horizon Grenache Rosé and IGO Organic Wine, among others.
Listing the reasons to drink wine from a can, Most Wanted Wines suggests “joining the revolution.”
“Around 70% of aluminum cans are recycled globally, the highest of any recyclable resource. They’re almost always recycled back into themselves, as opposed to plastics or glass which are often ‘down-cycled’. The recycled material is back on shelf in as little as 60 days,” the brand shares.
Moreover, it highlights the convenience and lightweight nature of the canned format. “Canned wine is your friend,” Most Wanted Wines quips.
“It’s convenient, easy to throw in your bag, and most importantly, you don’t need to bring a glass. Cans are much lighter to transport than glass from source to customer (x17 lighter at equivalent volume), so have a lower carbon footprint.”
At Waitrose, most 187ml glass bottles will be replaced by aluminum cans but due to legal appellation restrictions some wines will have to remain in their glass packaging. This comes as part of Waitrose’s commitment to reduce its climate impact.
Additionally, in a bid to prevent millions of devices in the UK containing lithium from going to landfill, Waitrose announced its decision not to sell single-use vaping products.
“The move also comes amid growing environmental concerns about single-use vaping devices, containing both plastics and valuable lithium, ending up in the landfill. Collectively they are thought to account for about ten metric tons of this metal – which could be used in car batteries going to landfill each year,” the grocer says.
Part of nature plan
In October last year, a range of new commitments and initiatives to significantly reduce the impact of Waitrose and John Lewis’s commercial activity on the natural world was announced.
Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability, said: “The crises of nature loss and climate change are inextricably linked. And yet, the UK currently languishes in the bottom 10% of global countries for its abundance of nature. That’s unacceptable, and given the tiny window in which we have to get this right, delaying action is simply not an option.”
“This is why we’re going back to our roots and focusing our efforts on protecting and restoring nature. Whether it’s eliminating fossil fuel use across our transport operations, investing millions in conservation projects in regions where we source our products or helping our farmers transition to net-zero, we are acting where we can make the biggest impact.”
As part of its net-zero strategy, Waitrose also made the switch from fossil fuel heating to electric heat pumps in stores, powered by zero-carbon renewable energy, in November.
“No business is immune to rising energy costs,” said Neil Coleman, operations manager, energy and innovation for the John Lewis Partnership.
“We’ve already set an ambitious plan to reduce our energy consumption and reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2035. With energy prices rising, we’re accelerating this [by] focusing on heat recovery solutions and thermal efficiency to help lower the general heating and cooling load of our buildings.”
Innova Market Insights reports bottles continue to dominate the beverage packaging category with 56 percent share in launches in 2020.
However, aluminum can launches have doubled since 2016 to 22 percent. Meanwhile, glass remains the most popular beverage packaging material with 34% share in launches (2020).
The packaging industry has a major role in fighting climate change and the environmental, social and financial disasters already being felt throughout the world, with global warming, rising sea levels and ocean acidification threatening human life in various ways.
Packaging used for everyday items like F&B products requires substantial natural resources and is often disposed of in ways that poison the environment.
PackagingInsights previously spoke with major industry players Mondi and DS Smith about how industry can play a significant role in ameliorating its environmental footprint.
While material design and end-of-life disposal remain key factors, they explained that sourcing renewable energy is one of industry’s most pressing and challenging concerns.
By Radhika Sikaria
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