Canadian Packaging

French Vintner's PET Project Helps Lighten Load


January 15, 2009
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Established winemakers loathe to break with tradition, but in a sustained effort to reduce its carbon footprint, French vintner Boisset Family Estates—located in the famed French wine heartland of Burgundy—has done just that: packaging this year’s popular Beaujolais Nouveau wines from the historic wineries of Mommessin and Bouchard Aîné & Fils in plastic bottles instead of glass.

Manufactured by the Philadelphia, Penn.-based PET (polyethelene terephthalate) supplier Constar International Inc., the lightweight 750-ml PET bottles were chosen as a means to help the vintner cut its air freight costs as well as reduce its carbon footprint—thanks to a 38-pound weight reduction per case, compared to glass.

“We are committed to reducing the wine world’s carbon footprint,” says Boisset Family Estates president Jean-Charles Boisset, noting that the vast majority of the 270,000 cases of Boisset wines exported to the U.S. and Canada in 2006 were shipped by air.

The company produces approximately five million cases of wine per year for markets across the globe, according to Boisset.

“It is critical in today’s time,” Boisset asserts, “with the scarcity of our planet’s resources and the known environmental impacts of human activity, that we consider whether we should still ship thousands of cases of wine in heavy bottles via air throughout the world in order for the wines to arrive on time for their annual release date in November, when we can reduce fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by more than half through a responsible choice of packaging.”

Closely resembling glass bottles at first look, the high-barrier PET vessels contain a proprietary oxygen scavenging technology, called MonOxbar, that keeps oxygen from permeating into the bottle to protect the flavor, aroma, and the deeply rich color of the wine inside, according to Constar.

“There is growing demand from retailers, marketers, and consumers for environmentally-friendly packaging and, equally important, sustainable business practices,” states Constar vice-president for marketing and business development Scott Pleune.

“Boisset has embraced this concept and found a package that satisfies the demand for sustainability without compromising the performance of the package and the integrity of the wine, adds Pleune.

“Containers incorporating our MonOxbar technology are specifically designed to protect the subtle flavors of wine, beverages and foods that are packed in PET containers.”