Why is reducing wine packaging waste and emissions important?
Like you, we care a lot about what we drink and its impact on the world. We spend a lot of time thinking about organic farming, waste reduction, and other ways to care for the planet as we make and drink wine. And the final step, the packaging, actually has the greatest impact on the environment and needs to be part of the conversation. As with any packaging waste, best practices are always, in order of importance: (1) Reduce, first (2) Reuse that which can’t be reduced (3) Recycle as a last resort.

Isn’t a glass wine bottle recyclable?
Unfortunately, even if you put the glass bottle in the recycling bin, that glass is probably not even being recycled. Only 27% of glass is recycled in the US. Recycling is expensive and resource intensive. Materials often have to be shipped overseas to be recycled. Even a bottle that is recycled is only usually up to 70% cullet or recycled glass. The rest is virgin material.
What’s the advantage of boxed wine?
Where do we start? A box of wine holds 4 bottles of wine, is very lightweight (easier to carry home from the store), and is a much better value for you, the drinker. It lasts longer once open so you have more time to enjoy it. It’s also way better for the planet. One 3L bag-in-box has 1/10th the carbon footprint of a 750mL glass bottle. The box is 75% recycled cardboard, breaks down neatly, and amounts to less waste than a newspaper.
The last time I had boxed wine, it was gross. Are there any options that taste good?
Absolutely, boxed wines have come a long way. There are boxed options for every palate.. We’ve made some delicious boxed wines that have been praised by Bon Appetit, Wirecutter, and more. Give one a try and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
My customers are reluctant to give boxed wine a try. How can I convince them?
It’s all about education! Let them try some boxed options and start a dialogue about the eco (and cost) benefits of the wines. Habits and systems take time to change, don’t give up! And if you need some delicious boxed options, we’ve got you covered.
Does boxed wine still include plastic?
Yes, every box of wine includes a plastic liner.. That will likely go in a landfill, which sucks. It’s honestly one small piece of the puzzle. Even with a plastic bag in the landfill, boxed wine is still a much better choice for the environment. And at Wine Queen, we are working on an upcycling program for those bags. Stay tuned.

Talk  about other waste & emission reducing options: reusable bottles and kegs?
Think Milkman. Back in the day, milk was delivered in glass bottles to homes and empties were collected to be sanitized and reused. Zero waste! This is brilliant and embodies the potential of a circular, rather than a one way or disposable economy. This beautiful, zero waste potential exists for wine bottles. Why not!!?? Developing and implementing the infrastructure required to reuse wine bottles is part of the master plan. The circular economy will come to fruition in a phased approach. We’re all about baby steps to big change. Reusable kegs are another fabulous (and very fun) zero waste option.

How can I get involved?
You’re in the right place! Shoot us an email contact@wine-queen.com and we’d love to chat. And sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on all things eco-positive wine packaging.

What is Eco-Positive Packaging?

Most of us are very comfortable with the idea that organic farming and waste reduction and management are positive choices if we regard our planet. Though packaging has the greatest impact, it is rarely a consideration when it comes to wine choices, so here are 10 pro tips to start you on your eco-positive wine journey:

1. Box wine and reusable glass are the best packaging choices for the environment.

2. That cute little box holds 4 bottles (yes, 4 bottles!) of wine.

3. That box is pretty light too. Hold one in your hand. Try doing the same with those 4 bottles!!??

4. Imagine those 4 bottles piling up in your recycling bin. Not to mention the additional waste from the label, capsule and closure.

5. Shocker Fact: That glass is probably not even being recycled. (Gasp!!!)

6. In contrast, that cute little box is 75% recycled cardboard and breaks down neatly and amounts to less waste than a newspaper.

7. The bag. . .yeah the plastic bag. . .It is also very compact. You can send it back to me. I’ll collect it and am working on how I can upcycle them. That’s a fancy term for making the bags into something that has more ‘value’ than in its original form. For example, I am trying to turn them into sturdy crates for my reusable glass! Stay-tuned for more on this. . .And what if you don’t send the bag back to me. Most of you probably won’t because we are convenience-based and habituated to dispose of packaging rather than a circular economy based on reusing things again and again to reduce waste. It’s ok. We are not there yet, but hopefully, you are starting to think about this stuff. And I digress. . .

8. If you don’t return the bag to me it goes to the landfill, along with the glass. This sucks. I’m not going to lie. But this is honestly one small piece of the problem/puzzle. Even with this bag in the landfill, box wine is still a much better choice for the environment.

9. Reusable glass bottles are awesome because they involve zero waste at all. Return the bottle where it is accepted and it will be washed and reused for the next vintage. This is brillant. The only complexity relates to #7 above, and the fact that we are a long way off from a circular economy (can be a link) for glass wine bottles. Why? Because it is pull your hair out complicated! But we are taking the first baby steps, which is crucial!

10. This is a lot to digest, and I didn’t share everything! But please trust me. I know way too much about this stuff!


On Box Wine:
Recognizing that box wine has a negative stigma and generally fails to meet standards of a discerning palate, and that the majority of packaging have a generic appearance, Wine Queen produced her first ‘fancy’ box wine, with distinct, design-conscious packaging from a proper Domaine in southern Burgundy to buck that trend. To be able to accept that box wine can be fine wine, consumers must have sufficient choice in this more stylized format.

Wine Queen is adamant about changing market perception for box wine through education and facilitating market access to more choice in higher quality wine. In her words: Once it’s in the glass, does it really matter?

On Reusable Glass:
Wine Queen acknowledges that after centuries as the ‘preferred vessel’ for wine, glass is here to stay. Wine Queen’s interest in reusable glass, which is essentially zero waste, was sparked by a desire to ensure an environmentally responsible packaging type exists for wine styles not suited for the box wine format. These include sparkling wine and wine intended for longer term aging, and which are not meant to be consumed within roughly a year of purchase.

Using her passion and credibility as a Master of Wine, Melissa aka Wine Queen has set out to carve a path for her industry towards eco-positive practices by educating and changing consumer behavior with a unified strategy towards sustainable packaging solutions for the wine industry. Her dream is to have dedicated ‘eco-positive’ wine sections in retail stores and on wine lists that embrace wines packaged in an environmentally responsible way.

When she is not busy being a mom of two or working or running long distances, you will find her sipping Champagne.

Follow @melissamontisaunders @communalbrands