***

Good wine bottling must meet high expectations. The need for long storage life, UV-resistance and gas tightness continue to make glass wine bottle the wine market’s most popular transportation and storage container. Yet the processes of producing, recycling and disposing of wine bottles are anything but unproblematic from an ecological point of view. “Therefore, it was time to think about more sustainable and more ecological wine bottling”, says Erich Gungl, who is in charge of waste management and sustainability in Styria. “It is for that reason that we started the pilot project, ALLWEG-Steiermarkflasche (the Styria bottle), in cooperation with the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture and Spar Styria.” Gungl added that just by re-using and refilling a Styria bottle five times, approximately 10,000 tonnes of waste can be avoided.

In terms of its shape and design, the Styria bottle is unique in the world and can only be used for bottling wine produced in Styria. Owing to the fact that both the bottle and its content come from the region, significantly shorter transportation distances can be achieved, resulting in less energy consumption and a reduction of CO2 emissions, along with lower distribution costs.

Since all wine producers involved in the project use the same bottles, it can be produced in higher numbers. This creates a price advantage during procurement and, additionally, promotes the common market appearance of quality wines from Styria. Currently, approximately 300 wineries are using the Styria bottle, which has a standard volume of 0.75L and is produced in two colours as a light-weight bottle with reduced weight (480g instead of the normal 550 g). Although the producer actually does not sell the bottle as being capable of being reused, cleaning and refillable are possible by means of specific measures. For example, the eco-company i-Tech Styria has developed special cutters to remove the metal caps from the bottles. This way, the consumption of raw materials and energy is reduced significantly.

During the pilot stage between January and December 2012, approximately 200,000 Styria bottles were collected for re-use. In 2013, the plan is to re-use and refill 15% more bottles.

The ALLWEG-Steiermarkflasche initiative was awarded with the European Waste Reduction Award 2012 after only six months. Due to the positive feedback of consumers and the partial success of the pilot project, the expansion of the bottle to all Spar supermarkets in Styria was announced in January 2013. This way, the state of Styria provides all wine connoisseurs with the option of making a positive contribution to environmental and climate protection by returning their bottles.