GPI President: Glass bottles are a sustainable packaging choice for wine

Glass News,

Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), spoke at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium regarding the U.S. production and shipments of glass, and provided insight into why glass bottles are the sustainable choice for wine.

DeFife provided a glass market update: “In 2022, demand remained high and domestic production was strong.

“While imported glass bottles were impacted by the international logistics backlogs affecting multiple industries across the United States, domestic glass suppliers never ran out of excess inventory, or raw materials to make glass.

“All materials needed to manufacture glass in the states can be sourced in North America. Through November 2022, the domestic glass container plants shipped out roughly 1.82 billion wine bottles to their customers – representing an increase of 17 million bottles compared to November 2021. Domestic wine bottle manufacturers can supply growing wine market needs in 2023.”

DeFife also addressed the sustainability of wine packaged in glass: “Glass is made from all-natural sustainable raw materials, including significant percentages of recycled glass. 85% of consumers prefer to buy wine in glass, making it an optimal packaging choice. A glass container can be recycled indefinitely without loss in quality – in fact, it can take as little as 30 days for a recycled bottle to be back on the shelves as a new bottle.

“Glass is unlike most other packaging materials for many reasons – it doesn’t harm biodiversity, is sourced locally and sustainably, requires no film or plastic lining and contains no synthetic materials that can interact with food and beverages. Production of wine bottles has become more sustainable over time – glass bottles are over 30% lighter than they were 20 years ago, and the process emits 50% less CO2 than 50 years ago.

“The glass industry continually looks for new ways to address consumers’ wishes for an even more sustainable glass container, through research and development at the plant. This includes incorporation of hydrogen technology, the potential of refill and reuse programs, and further increasing recycled content through more effective recycling programs.

“Importantly, the availability of recycled glass for making new bottles, which is already strong in U.S. wine regions, looks to be increasing soon with the implementation of packaging laws in California and Oregon, including the expansion of container deposit programs in California that will increase wine bottle recycling in the state.

“As other states consider or enact recycling reform, the opportunity for glass in a circular economy only improves.”

This piece was originally published in the March 2023 issue of Glass International