Pinot Plastic? Aussie winemaker tries plastic bottles

Mon May 4, 2009 12:00am EDT
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Wine connoisseurs who turned their noses up at screwtop caps replacing corks now have a new innovative to sniff at -- plastic wine bottles designed to resemble glass but with a 29 percent smaller carbon footprint.

Australian wine maker Foster's is going green by bottling two of its Wolf Blass brand wines in recyclable (PET) 750 ml bottles using a new technology that it hopes will overcome previous resistance to wine bottled in lightweight plastic.

A crisp dry white blend and a shiraz cabernet sauvignon will go on sale in plastic bottles across Australia next week priced at $17 each and marketed under the name "Green Label."

Oliver Horn, global brand director of Wolf Blass wines, said new technology called diamond clear enabled the company to make clear plastic bottles that looked like glass and had a shelf life of 12 months.

But he admitted it was a "communications challenge" to get consumers to accept wine in plastic bottles, so Foster's was spending $1 million on an campaign showing that tests had proved these bottles cut greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent.

"Wine is a very traditional product. People were skeptical about the change from corks to screwtops," Horn told Reuters.

"But if we can prove that these bottles are not just more convenient but also a greener alternative then I think consumers may accept them."

For although higher-end wines are often meant to be kept for years, Horn said that research showed 92 percent of wine was consumed within 48 hours of purchase.

"So this is not about niche consumers. This is targeted at the vast majority of wine consumers as everyone now is environmentally aware," said Horn.   Continued...