Monday, March 1, 2010

More on Sustainability

A few weeks ago, I posted about sustainability initiatives in two wine regions (California and Bordeaux) and about lightweight bottles. Now here are examples of what two individual winemakers are up to.

In Marlborough (New Zealand), Landcare Research New Zealand certifies Grove Mill under its carboNZero programme. To achieve CarboNZero certification, Grove Mill buys carbon credits, through a local forest regeneration program, to offset CO2 emissions that they cannot otherwise reduce. (Carbon credits are generated from projects that remove CO2 from the atmosphere or prevent the emission of CO2.)

One of Grove Mill’s most recent initiatives is the conversion of one of its tractors from running on diesel to running on...vineyard cuttings! Gasification converts the cuttings to a gas used for fuel. Using vineyard cuttings reduces the tractor's diesel consumption by as much as 75%. Interestingly, in this case, the high cost of diesel motivated Grove Mill to convert the tractor, rather than its desire to reduce CO2.  But the new tractor will still reduce CO2 by 0.35 tonnes per hectare annually.  A win-win.

Fetzer Winery in Mendocino County (California) has reduced the amount of its waste that goes to landfill, from 1724 tons in 1990 to 58.8 tons in 2008. It now recycles over 968 tons of glass, cardboard, paper, plastics, metal, pallets, and barrels annually. Fetzer also produces approximately 2,500 tons of compost and mulch from leftover grape seeds, skins, and stems and uses it in the vineyards and landscaping at the winery.

In 2008, Fetzer converted its entire line of wines to lightweight bottles, reducing the weight of a bottle by an average of 14%, which resulted in a savings of 2,173 tons of glass per year.

To see more of what Fetzer is doing, here's a video:

Grove Mill wines are imported into Ontario by Edwards Wines & Spirits.  The LCBO carries Fetzer wines.

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1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading your updates on what wineries are doing to reduce their carbon footprint and yesterday’s More on Sustainability was another informative piece. Given your interest in all things green, I thought it might be time for an LCBO enviro update, especially on the lightweight glass front.

    Encouraging our suppliers to use lightweight glass for their bottles is one of the main goals of our environmental strategy. Glass is the most popular container for the products we sell and we expect will continue to be so. By moving to lightweight bottles, suppliers will reduce fuel consumption and gas emissions. There is also a benefit for our customers and staff. Lighter products will result in fewer stresses and strains in the lifting and carrying of products.

    We’ve tested the products we already offer in lightweight bottles to ensure they aren’t more likely to break. Tests showed lightweight glass did not result in increased breakage. Tests also showed light penetration, another concern, was also not an issue.

    We also wanted to be sure lightweight bottles wouldn’t be viewed as “less premium” as package appeal is important to both our customers and suppliers. We concluded that this would not be a problem for wines under $15 a bottle. With these concerns addressed, we then surveyed our product offering to determine the average weight of a glass bottle in our stores. The average weight is about 500 grams. We have set as our long range goal to see that average reduced to 420 grams.

    In recent months, we have been discussing a national strategy with the other Canadian liquor boards and industry associations to encourage suppliers to consider using lightweight glass. Our aim is to have a comprehensive lightweight glass strategy in place by 2012. But we are not waiting until then to encourage the shift to lighter weight glass. As you aware, we are actively asking our suppliers for products in lightweight bottles during our product calls. We feel this will help encourage the use of lightweight glass as suppliers naturally want to present products in packages that we are interested in.

    We are also moving forward on other enviro fronts. We have a department that oversees energy and environmental strategies for our 611-store retail network to make sure stores are built or upgraded using environmentally-friendly materials and are energy efficient. In late 2008, we opened our first store with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) features. We also have an Environmental Committee that assesses the LCBO’s environmental progress and sets new goals.

    We also continue to recycle all of our corrugated cardboard -- the substance of our popular liquor boxes -- as well as a host of other materials. We continue to support efforts to preserve and expand wildlife and wildlife habitats through our Natural Heritage Fund. Fifty cents from the sale of every one of our reusable cloth Envirobags goes to this fund. This Fund has contributed to an Atlantic salmon restoration project, river clean up drives, tree planting initiatives and an eagle nesting project. Our suppliers have also contributed to this fund and conservation efforts for endangered species.

    From providing financial support to Ontario ’s Blue Box Program and assisting the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP), to the introduction of reusable shopping bags and elimination of plastic bags, the LCBO continues to look at ways to reduce its carbon footprint.

    Chris Layton
    LCBO Corporate Communications