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Wine Bottles – Recycle or Reuse

I came across an interesting concept while reading an article online; is it better to recycle or re-use an item?

The article, “Bottle Blues” by Alastair Bland on the Bohemian.com website focuses on the soon to open wine bottle re-use business. Bruce Stephens is the force behind this new business. He believes that it is much better to re-use wine bottles than to recycle them. To that end his company, Wine Bottle Recycling, has installed advanced machinery to sort, remove labels, wash and sterilize wine bottles. The concept of re-using wine bottles has been tried before. However, the technology was not available to make it successful for a business.

Bland quotes Stephens, “The public has to be aware of what the glass industry has been doing. Getting us all to recycle and think we’re saving the world is just duping the public.” Bland notes that Ronson, a partner at Wine Bottle Recycling believes, “that recycling is hardly different than buying new bottles. What does recycling accomplish? You’re still melting material at extremely high temperatures and remolding it. All you’re not doing is taking silica sand from the earth.” So it appears that recycling wine bottles creates about the same carbon footprint as making new bottles.

Are re-using bottles a potential answer? While traveling in Wisconsin we learned that in that state wineries are not permitted to re-use wine bottles. Are there other states that prohibit the re-use of wine bottles? Home winemakers re-use wine bottles, why shouldn’t wineries?

If this topic interests you be sure to read the full article by Alastair Bland.

Cheers, Kathy


  1. Posted January 19, 2010 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I have bottles that I have been saving for someone to start bottle recycling.

    Keep me posted.

    Rafael Hernandez
    dba: Texa Vineyard & Smokehaus

  2. Posted January 26, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    I am a partner in Wine Bottle Recycling, LLC. While the tone of the article in question may have been anti-recycling, our entire management team supports the local recycling programs and understands the importance of same to our environment, and frankly, our business. Stephens and Ronson’s comments were focused entirely on recycling of glass wine bottles, without regard to other (California Redemption Value)products. The bottom line is there is a hierarchy, with reuse being better, however,reuse could never support the entire burden of reducing the negative impacts on our landfills.

    We do not believe that state regulations will prohibit reuse of wine bottles, we will have further clarity on this soon.

  3. Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    just heard from the Wisconsin Dept of Agriculture.
    They indicated that they and many other states use the FDA Food Code. The Regulation, Chapter 4, section 603.17 Returnable, Cleaning for Refilling is what guides them on bottle reuse. After reviewing this code section, it is clear that reused wine bottles are allowed to be used in Wisconsin and more than likely most all states.

  4. Posted January 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Thank you Bill for inquiring with the Wisconsin Dept of Agriculture. It is interesting what they told you as we visited a number of Wisconsin wineries in 2009 and at several wineries we were told they were not allowed to reuse wine bottles in Wisconsin. Hopefully the Dept of Agriculture will send out a memo to state wineries and let them know it is possible and wineries can help protect the environment and perhaps save on the cost of the bottles.

    Cheers! Kathy

One Trackback

  1. By Tweets that mention Wine Trail Traveler -- Topsy.com on January 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kathy Sullivan and Terry Sullivan, FreshCoastDist. FreshCoastDist said: Gr8 article on reusing wine bottles http://bit.ly/6fDgu7 via @wineabout and the discussion post: http://bit.ly/7B99BF #green #wine… […]

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