Champagne bottle gets green makeover

Sep 14, 2010 By Katherine Butler

Go to Google looking for "green wine," and you'll be greeted with a flood of information on how the global wine industry is taking steps to green its grapes, bottles, processes and more. Many wineries are eschewing pesticides and embracing biodynamic practices. Most vineyards are quick to crow about their eco-friendly practices -- that is, most vineyards outside of France's Champagne region.

The makers of champagne are legendary in their discretion about their winemaking practices. As the New York Times reports, the fact that champagne makers have quietly adopted a more eco-friendly design for their surprises no one. Producers in the region have reshaped their bottles into a sleeker, more efficient design -- all to reduce the carbon footprint of their process. This "bottle shock" is a big step in the greening of the industry.

Thierry Gasco is the master vintner for Pommery. As he told the New York Times, "This is how we're remaking the future of champagne. We're slimming the shoulders to make the bottle lighter, so our carbon footprint will be reduced to help keep champagne here for future generations." To the untrained eye, the dark bottles don't look very different from traditional containers. The difference is just 2.3 ounces less material below the neck of the bottle. But experts say this difference will remove 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide that the industry emits each year transporting its goods around the world.

The champagne industry is traditionally at the whim of the economy, primarily because it takes an average of three years to produce champagne from raw grapes. This makes it more sensitive to times of economic uncertainty, which is certainly true with the current recession. Tyler Colman is an author of environmental studies on the wine industry. As he told the NY Times, "for champagne producers to reduce the weight of their packaging is definitely a step in the right direction, because there's less mass to transport around the world." Others point out that reducing the of the industry is a way to stay competitive with the rest of the market.

But the champagne industry remains typically discreet about how much money producers will save or how much eco-standards will improve with these new bottles. The task of redesigning them had to consider the famous shape while containing the extreme pressure on the beverage. The new bottles are not much cheaper than the original ones, but they could become an industry standard -- and therefore further reduce the cost of production.

In the meantime, vintners continue to balance the carefully cultivated traditions of Champagne with progress and efficiency.

Explore further: Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils

More information: (c) 2010, Mother Nature Network.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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User comments : 8

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gunslingor1
not rated yet Sep 14, 2010
Glass is far better than plastic "period". Changning the bottle will have negligable effects on carbon footprint... plus, the current bottle was perfected over 100s of years, so we are lossing quality for false environmental savings to give the producers something to falsely brag about. Not their fault really.

the carbon impact in this article is far misleading.. really... it's like saying "yesterday I picked up 1.5 quantities of egg". There are way to many units of measure and assumptions/policies needed to estimate any carbon footprint. You can't just state XXX tons of carbon a year.

I think we need a standard system of units.
omatumr
1 / 5 (1) Sep 14, 2010
. . . we are lossing quality for false environmental savings to give the producers something to falsely brag about.

. . . the carbon impact in this article is far misleading.. really... it's like saying "yesterday I picked up 1.5 quantities of egg". There are way to many units of measure and assumptions/policies needed to estimate any carbon footprint. You can't just state XXX tons of carbon a year.

I think we need a standard system of units.


Perhaps we do not need "a standard system of units" for this stuff anymore than we need "a standard system of units" for the carbon footprint left by a bull?

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
gunslingor1
not rated yet Sep 15, 2010
I disagree. We do need a standard system for a bull a car and everything. Lets take the bull for example.

When they calculate the carbon foot print of the bull, they tend to do this:

CF bull = farts/y + burps/y + amount of carbon not captured by the grass eaten by the cow/y + amount of carbon to transport the meat/year + amount of carbon that would have been captured if the grazing field was its original forest+ etc etc etc.

When they calculate the carbon footprint of a car, they tend to do this:

CF Car = carbon released during highway driving

-they usually intentionally leave out CF of the refineries, fuel transport, flared gas at the well, etc, not because it is negligable, but because there is no standard of reporting allowing them to manipulate the numbers.

There is no standard for calculating carbon footprints. A unit identifying how a CF was calculated would solve the problem.

You have to either, show the calculation, or imply it by a symbol or unit.
gunslingor1
not rated yet Sep 15, 2010
Check out the recent dog vs car claim. They were actually trying to claim dogs release more carbon than an SUV simply by manipulating the calculations. A dog producing more than a car is about as rediculous as a cow producing more than a car.

http://daily.sigh...-vs-cars

Just think about it. Walk behind a cow and capture all the farts in a day. Then attach a giant ballon to your car. Fact of the matter, cows move at 2 mph and weight about .5 tons; they burn at upwards of 90% efficiency. Meanwhile a car moves 70 mph, wieghs a bit over 1 ton and burns at 25% efficiency. Ther is no way a cow produces more. It's physically impossible.

By the most cow forgiving calculations, a cow produces .5 the amount of carbon as a car in a year, but this is accounting for the 20X impact of methane over carbon... WITHOUT accounting for the fact that a lot of the methane is broken down by usual UV light in the air.

See the manipulation now?
Eco_R1
not rated yet Sep 15, 2010
CF bull = farts/y + burps/y + amount of carbon not captured by the grass eaten by the cow/y + amount of carbon to transport the meat/year + amount of carbon that would have been captured if the grazing field was its original forest+ etc etc etc.

Plus human burp + human fart after meat consumption
gunslingor1
not rated yet Sep 15, 2010
lol, I wouldn't be surprised.

The point is the numbers are highly manipulated by those who have the most to lose from high effeciency vehicles.

It's like the labels they put on food:"Natural Flavor", "Real Cheesy Flavor", "All Natural". Natural and Cheesy Flavor have no legal definitions, so it can mean anything you want. That's why CA came out with the "Organic" standard which does have a legal definition and usually results in 2/3 less pesticides.

We need the same type of standard for carbon footprints so we can, pointlessly in my opinion, compare cow farts to cars. You cannot compare anything accurately if you intentionally change you assumptions to be in favor of your prefered answer. This is what is happening in a rampent fashion with carbon footprints. It's why some morons think cows produce more carbon then a car.
omatumr
1 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2010
A standard system of units is essential in scientific discussions.

A standard system of units in unnecessary in emotional appeals.

Oliver K. Manuel
gunslingor1
1 / 5 (1) Sep 15, 2010
Agreed. Carbon footprints are necessary variables in making practical scientific decisions about how to move our economy to the future, without obsolete fuel sources, with a stepped approach. It is currently being approached from an "emotional" standpoint; largely, the emotions associated with immediate profit gains.

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