Plastic Wine Bottles and Sustainability in Marlborough

10 Sep

This week I travelled to Marlborough at the top of the South Island.  I have been working as a Sustainable Tourism Advisor there.  I have a fondness for Marlborough as it is, to me, the quintessential New Zealand holiday region.

On this trip I was honoured to speak to the Regional Tourism Organisation’s (Destination Marlborough’s) International Marketing Group – a sort of ‘best and brightest’ the sector in that region.  I was talking about sustainability, and got to drink wine with everyone after, which is important.

During this time I met some people from businesses in Marlborough who I have not worked with but whose businesses are doing great things from a sustainability perspective.  These included the kind folk from the Portage Resort in the Marlborough Sounds, who are Qualmark Gold Enviro-Starred (top draw).

I also met the charming Brydie Morrison, the cellar door Manager from Yealands Winery.  I went out to the winery the following day for a look around, and was given a great tour.  The winery cliams to be the most sustainable in the world, and I trust this claim.  Looking around the place was freakin’ awesome, but the coolest thing was that they are making wine in plastic bottles, which is much more sustainable than glass for a number of reasons, mostly relating to recycling costs and the carbon footprint of travel (90% of Yealand’s wine is exported).  

Apparently the plastic wine bottle has its detractors, but these people are dunces in my view. I think the move to plastic wine bottles is everything that is good about sustainable consumption.  It is important to consider why we think some products are better than others, and whether this is ‘mindless’ behaviour.  There is nothing mystical or grand about glass bottles.  The wine is what is (oh so) important.  Would you rather a cheap and nasty glass bottle of wine, or a plastic bottle of something top-shelf?

There is some snobbery associated with wine.  I will assert that the best place to drink wine is, in fact, in the sun, in the countryside and preferably in long grass. In such a case, it is inherently better to be carrying plastic.  Bring on many summer picnics and plastic wine bottles. I will keep a wine-glass in my hand though.

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