Thursday, June 9, 2011

Giving Props to the LCBO

Occasionally I give the LCBO, our provincial liquor monopoly, a kick in the pants. Any government-owned monopoly gets many advantages and we should expect it to show leadership across the “Board”.

Last year, I asked what the LCBO was doing to encourage its suppliers to use lighter-weight bottles. Such a move would lower our collective carbon footprint.

When you’re the largest buyer of wine and spirits in the world, you can push suppliers in the right direction. For several years now, Britain’s Tesco (the world’s third largest retailer) has been pushing its wine suppliers to use lighter-weight bottles. Suppliers listen to big retailers. Wal Mart is well-known for “persuading” suppliers to do its bidding, which can work wonders when used in socially responsible causes.

Fair is fair, though. When the LCBO does something right, they deserve a pat on the back.

The good news?

Earlier this month, the LCBO wrote to trade associations to inform them that the LCBO will implement a new lightweight glass bottle standard on January 1, 2013. After that date, all wine bottles priced at less than $15 must weigh no more than 420 grams. Sparkling wines are exempt. The LCBO has also given a partial exemption to “Hock” bottles, those tall bottles that the Germans and Alsatians use. These bottles are limited to 450 grams.

Suppliers of wines sold at more than $15 should expect the standard would affect them eventually. The LCBO says it will give preference to those “premium” suppliers who use lighter-weight bottles.

Although it’s easy to quibble that the implementation period is too long, or that the weight limit should be even lower, let’s give the LCBO a pat on the back for showing leadership in sustainability practices.


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