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New study shows the environmental impact of wine packaging: ”bag is best”

>> Monday, September 20, 2010

Systembolaget, the Swedish retail monopoly, has had a study made to analyse the environmental impact of different types of wine packaging. The conclusion was that wine in bag (bag-in-box without the box) has the least environmental impact. However, they do not quite say it that way. Instead this: “bag-in-box, bags and cartons have over-all a lesser environmental impact than glass bottles” and then “bigger volumes have lesser environmental impact” (not quite rocket science that one). In other words, the bag-without-box with a great volume should have the least impact.

As always with this kind of research it can be interesting to note who is behind the study. It is financed by Systembolaget, possibly the world’s biggest seller of bag-in-box wines, the Norwegian monopoly Vinmonopolet and one big Swedish importer, Oenoforos, in collaboration with Tetra Pak and Elopak, both leading carton packaging manufacturers, and Vitrop Smurfit Kappa, who makes bag-in-box packaging. One can only wonder why Systembolaget has teamed up with three packaging companies who obviously are partial in the issue. It can hardly be due to a lack of money.

Sara Norell, purchasing manager at Systembolaget, comments cryptically: “We will use the result of the study in our ongoing work on our product offer where we take into consideration such things as environmental impact and customer demand, quality aspects and of course the mission given to Systembolaget by the state/owner on alcohol effects on the public health”. It would have been interesting to know what they really think. The only (official) reason for Systembolaget to exist is that it is should minimise the effects of alcohol consumption on public health. Many observers believe that the the success of bag-in-box in Sweden is a strongly contribution factor to the increase in wine consumption in Sweden in recent years. More than 50% of all wine sold in Sweden is sold in BiB today.

So will the conclusion be to promote bag-in-box (or bag-without-box) more now, thanks to the lower environmental impact? How does that mix with the public health objectives?

You can find the whole report, in English, here. If you read it we would be very interested in your comments.


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