Blog Stories, Sustainability News – July 31, 2020 – Jess Baker

Paper Wine ‘Bottles’ Have Flimsy Sustainability Claims Against Glass

Everyone wants to claim they are as beautiful and sustainable as glass bottles, even when the container (aka paper wine bottles) is much closer to a milk carton than a bottle. Maybe imitation is the best form of flattery.

If you’re a wine fan, you’ve probably seen some of the headlines touting the earth-friendly attributes of new paper wine “bottles.” The headlines are typically telling you that these fancy plastic-lined boxes they call “bottles” are the new eco-friendly way to drink. We’re here to say don’t buy the hype.

Paper cartons are lighter than glass bottles, so they’re staking the eco-friendly claim around the idea that since they’re lighter to transport, paper has a lower carbon footprint. It’s a flimsy argument.

Here’s the thing: You have to look at sustainability from end-to-end – not just transportation. Glass bottles beat paper “bottles” time and time again.

Let’s talk about how paper products are made. The first step is called pulping. Think of pulp as a paste that will eventually be turned into paper or carton. When mills are working with recycled paper, it’s called re-pulping, which manufactures recycled paper back into pulp.

There are two pulping (and re-pulping) methods. Mechanical pulping is for items such as newsprint while chemical pulping creates stronger products. During chemical pulping, wood chips are cooked in a chemical solution to dissolve and separate the wood fibers. The fibers go from that chemical soup to a bleach bath to turn the fibers white. Then in the case of paper wine bottles, a plastic coating is added as a barrier between the wine and the paper (since no one wants a soggy wine bottle).

With glass, what you see is what you get. Glass bottles are made from three natural ingredients – sand, limestone and ash—as well as recycled glass. Glass bottles are transparent, tough and virtually inert. Glass bottles don’t need plastic liners to protect the wine. Glass isn’t made with plastic.

Glass doesn’t have to manufacture its way to being 100% recyclable and endlessly recyclable–by nature it already is. You can recycle your glass bottles time and time again and they will end up as new glass bottles. You can only recycle paper five to seven times before the quality is shot.

If you’re worried about the future of the planet, choose glass bottles. Don’t buy into the hype that paper wine bottles are more eco-friendly than glass. Glass bottles are the clear choice: no chemical soup, no bleach baths, no plastic liners. Stick with the original bottle. There’s a reason everyone wants to imitate it.