The biggest news this week is the passing of California’s extended producer responsibility law.

Not the first US state to do it, but by far the largest and widest ranging. It puts the onus on plastic and other single-use manufacturers to make their products recyclable or compostable by 2032, and requires them to pay for recycling programs, historically borne 100% by the public. A look at Johnny Walker’s refillable bottle scheme, ‘bottle for life’, a path, not the path forward to help reduce alcohol beverage’s carbon footprint. Dudley Brown, a McLaren Vale viticulturist and winemaker pens a thought piece on sustainability on his blog, The Wine Rules. Wine Enthusiast on Austria’s new vanguard of winemakers leading in the organic and biodynamic movement, and Eric Asimov reviews ‘Living Wine’ a natural wine documentary.

Packaging

California: California has passed their most ambitious plastic reduction law to date. The bill, building on previous legislation, will require producers to both make less plastic and to ensure that all single-use products are recyclable or compostable. The New York Times

The law requires that all forms of single-use packaging, including paper and metals, be recyclable or compostable by 2032. This is most significant when it comes to plastic products, which are more technologically challenging to recycle. In addition, it is tougher for people to figure out which plastics are recyclable, and which aren’t.

California will require a 25% reduction across all plastic packaging sold in the state, covering a wide range of items.

Under the state’s law, manufacturers would pay for recycling programs and will be charged fees based on the weight of packaging, the ease of recycling and whether products contain toxic substances, such as PFAS, a type of virtually indestructible chemicals that have been linked to increased risk of some cancers.

Resource Recycling has more details on how the industry and the government came together to pass the bill, and what got left out.

Dan Hopper, co-founder of Yes More a drinks brand marketing agency pens an op-ed for The Buyer on the promise of refillable initiatives.

He spotlights Johnny Walker’s refillable bottle program ‘bottle for life’. You buy one of their limited-edition bottles, and this signs you up for a subscription service. At regular intervals, a 500ml paper-based recyclable bottle is sent via carbon positive shipping to your door. This can be paused or cancelled anytime. You then decant your whisky from the paper bottle into your bottle for life and the process of whisky travelling from distillery glass becomes a little greener.

Hopper (unsurprisingly given his vocation) questions how this lackluster experience detracts from the luxury and allure of buying a bottle from your favorite retailer, and also rightly points out gifting – a huge part of the whisky market – is not being made more sustainable.

He also mentions successful refill schemes like liquid deli Demijohn in Edinburgh has been running successfully for many years selling refillable bottles.

Online wine merchant Laithwaites has launched its first wine in a paper bottle, an English wine Redbrook Estate Bacchus 2021. The Drinks Business

The packaging is made with 94% recycled paper, with a recyclable plastic pouch inside, and weighs 83g.

At this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament Evian is partnering with Reward4Waste on a project that incentivizes recycling. Packaging Europe

The initiative is the start of Reward4Waste’s longer-term relationship with Evian to explore how Digital DRS can enhance the Deposit Return Scheme planned to be introduced in Scotland in 2023 and England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2024.

By scanning the QR code on the recycling points and scanning the barcode on Evian drinks containers, users can enter to win two pairs of tickets to the Wimbledon 2023 Women’s Finals.

Sustainability

Australia: A critique of current sustainability systems, terminology, and practical use from Dudley Brown, a McLaren Vale viticulturist and winemaker. The Wine Rules

Defining sustainability, “Sustainability is the strategic framework used to ensure the continued existence of civilization understanding that human expectations and population are both increasing over time while recognizing that much of our resource base is increasingly finite.”

He views regenerative farming as the current best practice we have and cautions against viewing any system as the holy grail, everything is a continuous quest for achieving the best results possible with the least resources.

He advocates for government leadership, is cynical about current practices (organic, biodynamic, sustainable, regenerative) being industry-led and therefore self-serving.

He offers his personal (but unscientific) regenerative results at Inkwell, where he makes wine with his wife Dr Irina Santiago-Brown, after 3+ years (organic for 10+ before that) a noticeable improvement in plant health, fruit quality, expected yields and water retention.

California: Eric Asimov reviews the newly released documentary ‘Living Wine’ which profiles several ‘natural’ wine producers in California. The New York Times

Megan Bell of Margins Wines left to start her own winery after feeling belittled at her former male-dominated Napa employer.

The film addresses the vast harm that conventional agriculture has exacted on ecosystems and the climate. It also holds out hope that, if the world could step away from chemical farming and focus on building soil health and other regenerative methods, agriculture could be an important part of the solution.

The film does touch on the consumer perspective that wine is intrinsically a ‘natural’ beverage, with too little awareness of what natural wine actually is and isn’t, and offers a far too stark contrast with conventional wine, as manufactured and riddled with additives – which of course it is not necessarily.

Global: 100% Cork and the Portuguese Cork Association (APCOR) launched a series of virtual educational seminars to address sustainability in the wine industry with the goal of better understanding what it means, what the challenges are, and how the industry can improve. Press release via Yahoo News

The first session focused on ‘why can't more entry-level wines be sustainable?’ The four-person panel of industry experts included Dr. Stephanie Bolton of Lodi Rules, Benjamin Neyman of Shannon Family of Wines, Sandra Taylor of Sustainable Business International and Ryan Woodhouse of K&L Wine Merchants

 

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