Sainsbury’s Introduces The Plastic Wine Bottle
By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:26am BST 26/07/2007
If wine buffs were spluttering into their Merlot over the introduction of screw top bottles, they will be positively choking about the innovation Sainsbury’s is introducing next month: plastic bottles. The supermarket claims the lightweight and recyclable bottles are more environmentally friendly and will bounce, rather than smash, if dropped on the floor.
But wine experts have greeted the introduction with caution. Simon Berry, chairman of the 300-year-old wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd, said: “I want to taste it first. Frankly, I’m rather sceptical.” He said making the glass bottles thinner – as the whisky industry has started to do – was probably a more efficient way of reducing carbon emissions. While it has been possible to buy wine in plastic containers before, Sainsbury says this is the first time the bottles have been made to look identical to traditional glass bottles.
The initial trial will see the supermarket chain sell two of its own brand lines in plastic: a £4.99 New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a £3.99 Australian Shiraz. Alongside these two, Sainsbury’s will also sell two Wolf Blass wines in plastic. The Australian wine maker, whose two lines retail for £7.49, has pioneered the use of plastic Down Under.
Johnnie Ray, the Daily Telegraph’s wine critic, said he was not against the idea but had reservations. “They look cheap and tacky but who are we to argue with the wine maker if he says it is good enough for his wine? “They could get tarred as screw caps did when they were first introduced. Back then every said ‘how dreadful’ but now there are some cracking wines with screw tops,” he said.
A traditional glass bottle weighs around 14oz (400g), compared to a Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle, which weighs 2oz (54g).
Britons drink around 1 billion bottles of wine each year, which equates to about half a million tons of glass.
According to the Government’s packaging agency, the Waste and Resources Action Programme, reducing the weight of all glass bottles to the lightest available would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90,000 tonnes.
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said the plastic bottles would be perfect for the summer, if the weather ever improved.
“Not only does this mean that shopping will not be weighed down with heavy wine bottles, but the PET bottle is perfect for summer festivals, picnics, beach parties and barbecues.”