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Marks & Spencer’s Plastic Wine Bottles Could Spoil Faster

Wine stored in plastic bottles may spoil faster than when kept in glass bottles, according to new research from the Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV) in France. According to the report, wine stored in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles begins oxidizing within six months. The study used 25 testers drinking white wine kept in several types of packaging over two years. Findings on red wine were less conclusive, and the study will continue for several more months.

Marks & Spencer recently decided to change its 250 ml bottles over to PET plastic. The British retailer announced the move earlier this month, which the company says will save it 525 tons of packaging material every year. According to reports, the company will shift all of its mini bottles, 250 ml, to PET plastic, which is 88 percent lighter than glass. The company cited greater customer convenience as a main factor behind the decision. The company worked with French producer Paul Sapin and British-based Roger Harris Wines to design the new bottles.

The findings may mitigate any environmental gain the company was hoping to enjoy from the move. Savings on weight and packaging will prove ephemeral if consumers end up disposing of bottles that have gone bad.

The M&S bottles are made of two layers of PET with a barrier material between, which is supposed to prevent oxygen from entering the container. Although the study specifically tested multi-layer PET bottles, it did not report whether it used multi-layer bottles using the same barrier material as the M&S bottles.

Marks & Spencer guarantees the freshness of its wine for a full year after sale.

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4 thoughts on “Marks & Spencer’s Plastic Wine Bottles Could Spoil Faster

  1. The key word, cutomer convenience. It is wine. It is poured into a glass. The change is obvious since it is 88 percent lighter, the cost to produce the bottles is likely similarly cheaper. Ahhh…we learn from mistakes unfortunately too late sometimes. Greed will do that!

  2. The increased use of plastic bottles seems in conflict with Marks and Spencer’s reputation – desire to become the most sustainable retailer in the world. In considering the entire lifecycle of the product, wouldn’t a glass reusable bottle be preferable?

  3. Claire , first, PET bottles are reusable and recyclable, albeit not to the same extent as glass, so it’s not moving from a reusable to a disposable container.
    Second, if you look at the energy cost to make a glass bottle, and transport it, and then the energy to crush, grind and melt it in recycling it is likely to use more energy than doing all those things with a PET bottle.
    As for reusing, it’s great if you can get the logistics and scale right. But that’s really hard unless you have a very standardised product with few variants and a localised reusing pathway. If only M&S uses such bottles then there is a major cost in getting all those bottles back from all over the country to the winery to test, wash and reuse them. Even now, almost no wine bottles are reused, almost all are only recycled, despite there being billions of them available and more closely suited to a reusing system.
    Reusing would require a vast sorting and redistribution network, with thousands of different types of bottles (and each winery will want to keep all of its wines in exactly the same bottle and different wineries want to use the type and shape of bottle that it has chosen to differentiate its wine) , thousands of different trips of small batches of bottles to different suppliers.

    Also, testing of reused bottles in a commercial scale is expensive.

    I assume that M&S has done the sort of calculations involved and considers that PET comes in as the most environmentally beneficial (or least harmful).

  4. The savings in gas emmissions in distribution from the factory-to the distributor-to the retailer are approximately 50% an amount that justifies in itself the move to plastic. The use of smaller bottles also saves on wine that was openened and not used. All in all we like their move!

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