SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Bottling wine in recycled plastic may be good for the environment in the long-term, but not for the quality of the vintage, an Australian study shows.
The study, commissioned by plastic bottle maker Portavin, revealed the green alternative to glass was only good for wines that are drunk within a maximum of 12 months after bottling, with some wines starting to oxidize as early as 8 months.
"Simply put air travels through plastic but not through glass," Portavin's Managing Director Ian Matthews told Reuters.
"PET is fine for wine you plan to use under 12 months, but not for wines that are designed to improve in the bottle. It's highly unlike plastic will ever take over from glass because the PET format doesn't suit every style of wine."
The study aimed to assess the shelf-life of wine in 187 ml PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, bottles which Matthews said were better for the environment and manufacturing costs.
"The cost of recycling PET back into something you can use is a lot less than glass, it's cheaper to freight around because it's lighter and when you reprocess it, you don't have to spend as much energy as you do with glass," he explained.
Some research suggests that about 90 percent of wine purchased is consumed within 48 hours, a factor which prompted Australian wine maker Foster's to go green and bottle two of its Wolf Blass brand wines in recyclable PET.
But Matthews said PET was unlikely to become mainstream in the wine industry any time soon.
"It's still early days in Australia for recycling costs to actually hit anyone's bottom line," he said. "At the moment it's all very new and young and those economic pressures aren't as strong in Australia as they might be in Europe."
Australia is one of the world's biggest wine producers.
Reporting by Pauline Askin, Editing by Miral Fahmy