Is Wine in a Pouch Better Than the Bottle or the Box?

Wine in pouch better than bottle or box photo

Putting a picture of a bottle on the pouch signals a bit of The Company of Wine People

There's something romantic and beguiling about a bottle of wine. And glass, bless its old-fashioned heart, is one of the most recycled materials around. Also, as our trusty correspondent Lloyd has pointed out, refillable is truly the most sustainable container. Yet a debate continues to rage as winemakers migrate to the Tetra Pak and now the wine pouch over the traditional bottle. While we wait for smart green minds to start offering BYOB wine at local stores, consider the advantages (or not) of the pouch. Let's see if they are sufficient to get you to put a wine pouch on the Valentine's Day table this year.1) That old convenience factor
You could throw these heavy duty plastic wine pouches into the boot of your car or the carrier of your bike and probably not do one bit of damage. They also have built-in carrying handles (which yes are convenient and can help you skip a plastic bag at the liquor store, yet can be hellish on small hands). Weight-wise pouches are similar to Tetra Paks.

2) Easy to store (convenience part II)
It's true. These squishable wine packages mold to your grocery bag, bike basket or the inside of your picnic hamper in a way that a bottle of wine never will. Their soft sides are even easier to tuck into tight places than Tetra Paks. For moving across town or across the oceans, this is a relatively efficient way to transport vino.

3) Less fragile
Weight and breakability seem to be bugaboos glass just hasn't yet gotten around. These triple-layered wine pouches, with two layers metalized PET and an inner layer of polyethylene, are lightweight and practically impossible to puncture or break.

4) Wine inside stays fresher longer (when opened)
This is one of those glass-half-empty, glass-half-full type of arguments that to the cynically-minded might border on greenwash. Plastic pouch wines, because of an oxygen barrier needed to retain flavor, have a shelf life of "a minimum" of 9 months. That's the down side for wine lovers that might buy in bulk and hold wines for years. The upside is that the construction of the pouch is such that it flattens together as it is emptied, meaning remaining wine stays fresher as it is not exposed to oxygen.

5) Easier disposal than bottles
According to South Africa's The Company of Wine People, wine pouches consume about 20% of the energy for production that a glass bottle does and has around 20% of the carbon footprint of glass (Tetra Paks use only about 5% of the energy of a glass bottle and has 5% the CO2 footprint). Pouches weigh 20 times less than bottles, which means they are a lot easier to lug to the curb and take up less space at the landfill.

"If all the wine our company exported to the UK was in pouches the
volume of waste saved would fill 206 double decker buses, half of the
ships used in ocean delivery could be eliminated and 18,460 tonnes of
carbon dioxide would be saved, equivalent to the amount of carbon
dioxide released by 5,777 cars." Gary Parker, Sustainability Director
at PIRA International.

PIRA (which is a consulting firm and not an impartial research company) goes on to say that even if 100% of wine bottles were recycled and 0% of wine pouches were recycled (because by the way, the mixed-material pouches are NOT currently recyclable) pouches would still have less environmental impact and contribute less waste. What is now needed is a repeat life cycle analysis comparing bottles to Tetra Paks and plastic pouches, as well as comparing a system in which wine bottles might be refilled! Until then, pouches can tout their consumer and carbon footprint advantages over bottles, but their inability to be either fully recycled or ultimately refilled means they can't take the 'sustainable' mantle or yet prove themselves better than Tetra Pak.

Read more about 'sustainable' wine packaging
Can Design Improve Wine?

Which Is Greener, Wine Bottle or Box? Depends on the Box

Hitting the Bottle or Hitting the Box? The Debate Continues
Yellow + Blue Wines Expands its Use of Sustainable Tetra Pak Cartons
Drinking Outside the Box: Juice Boxes for Wine

Is Wine in a Pouch Better Than the Bottle or the Box?
There's something romantic and beguiling about a bottle of wine. And glass, bless its old-fashioned heart, is one of the most recycled materials

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