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In keeping with the country’s status as one of the most eco-progressive winemaking nations, local winemakers are starting to introduce lighter wine bottles into their collections to help off-set their carbon footprints.

As reported in the Business Report recently, sales of individually packaged South African Wines in the UK rose by 11% in 2009 and Wines of South Africa (WOSA), expect further growth this year. With wine being this country’s largest agricultural export, earning in excess of R6-billion in foreign exchange in 2008, the expectant further growth this year is good news for the country’s economy.

On the flip side, what impact is this going to have on the industry’s carbon footprint? With the timeous introduction of lighter wine bottles into the South African wine market, hopefully not much. The 750ml screwcap wine bottles weighing a mere 350g – as opposed to 500g for traditional wine bottles – are being introduced into the market this year and will be available to local winemakers.

According to WOSA, the scheduled launch of the lightweight bottles is mid-April, in time for the 2010 harvest. Says Hein Koegelenberg, CEO and proprietor of Leopard’s Leap wines: “We are extremely excited about the introduction of the lightweight bottles into our range. The introduction of lighter bottles into our wine collection is in keeping with our objective of being an eco-conscious wine brand and doing our utmost to limit our carbon footprint,” he says. Koegelenberg indicates that they will begin by introducing the lightweight bottles into their Classic Collection and their Lookout range (for the UK Market only). Incidentally, the 370g bottle that Leopard’s Leap will be moving over to is currently the lightest wine bottle in the market and won the 2009 Sustainability Trophy at the annual Institute of Packaging SA (IPSA) Gold Pack Award. According to WOSA, the introduction of the lighter weight wine bottles is also addressing a demand of leading retailers for more eco-friendly packaging and hopes that it will play a part in reducing the volume of bulk exports for off-shore bottling which is a major contributor to job losses in the industry.

With the South African wine industry set to receive a major boost to export sales by the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we can celebrate the fact with peace of mind that action is being taken to ensure that the balance of increased export volumes versus carbon emissions is kept in check.

Also to keep an eye out for is the introduction of plastic wine bottles which reportedly weigh only 50g and are supposed to offer additional benefits such as allowing for reverse printing of labels; more efficient transportation; reduced CO2 emissions; and reduced energy consumption in the manufacture and supply chain.

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