Waste, transport, packaging – you name it and Greenskin Wine is likely already taking steps to minimise its impact on the planet. So how did the company get so sustainable across its entire supply chain?
It all started with a single, unconventional business decision: putting wine in a pouch, not a bottle.
Better than bottles
“[The pouch] is just so compact,” says Mike Davies, co-founder of Fremantle-based Greenskin Wine, which has made a name for itself with its unorthodox packaging. “It’s literally 60% of the weight and space of a glass bottle. And of course, it’s flat when it’s empty.”
Having previously worked in wine packaging, Mike was well aware of the environmental issues caused by bottling wine – something he and fellow co-founder Kim McKee set out to tackle.
“68% of a bottle of wine’s carbon footprint is the packaging,” says Kim. “And then 86% of wines are purchased and drunk within a week. So why are we putting them in the heaviest, most energy-inefficient packaging?” It’s this revelation that led them to experiment with storing wine in a pouch.
And no, we’re not talking about a goon sack. Much like the reds, whites and rosés inside, the pouches are high-quality to ensure they’re unbreakable, resealable and keep the wine fresh for three weeks (much longer than the three days you get from glass). Better yet, the pouches require 80% less energy to produce than bottles.1
Wine without waste
The vast amount of energy used during manufacturing isn’t the only issue with glass bottles. Almost half of Australia’s glass waste doesn’t get recycled and ends up in landfill.2 That meant Mike and Kim’s alternative to bottles couldn’t just be less energy-intensive – it needed to be less wasteful, too.
That’s why Greenskin Wine teamed up with Plasmar, a company in Sydney that turns plastics into durable products used earlier up the supply chain. This includes pallets, bollards and even the vineyard posts that support grape vines. It’s “a beautiful full circle to see the wine pouches return to the vineyards,” says Kim.
Alongside every Greenskin Wine order is a postage-paid return satchel, making it easy for customers to send their used pouches to Plasmar. And if ever a pouch winds up in landfill, its impact is still less than that of glass because it weighs just 17 grams – a fraction of a standard 500-gram wine bottle.
And crucially, customers love it. “When you mention the recyclability, it certainly does make people feel good,” says Kim. “They say, ‘okay, I’m in.’”
Less shipping, more savings
They’re energy-efficient, they’re recyclable… we’d say the pouches are already pulling their weight for the planet! Yet there’s another big way they’ve helped Greenskin Wine make their supply chain more sustainable.
Because with a smaller product comes a smaller need for freight. “When we transport one truckload of [the pouches] flat and empty to the winery to fill them, if we were to take the same volume of glass bottles, it would take 26 trucks,” says Kim.
Needing fewer trucks for deliveries doesn’t just save emissions – it saves money, too. “From a transport and storage perspective, it’s 60% of the weight and space,” says Mike. “So there’s a clear saving there.”
And there’s a surprise saving for customers as well – more fridge space and fewer noisy trips to the recycling bin! “People say, ‘I can fit more in my fridge [and] I don’t have embarrassing bin days,’” says Kim.
Making sustainability stick
We’ve said a lot about the pouch, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the reason Greenskin Wine places so much importance on sustainability. In truth, it’s the other way around.
Mike and Kim are always looking for opportunities to do their work in a way that reduces their impact on the planet. It’s this mentality that led them to put wine in pouches in the first place, and it’ll undoubtedly lead them to their next environmentally-friendly initiative.
The key, according to Kim, is for businesses to be on the lookout for ways to do better, be it big or small. “Every time we do anything, we look at what’s that’s getting thrown out and think, ‘What can we do differently with that?’”
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