Tyler Colman, contributing to the New York Times, tells us why wine should not be bottled, but instead boxed:
A standard wine bottle holds 750 milliliters of wine and generates about 5.2 pounds of carbon-dioxide emissions when it travels from a vineyard in California to a store in New York. A 3-liter box generates about half the emissions per 750 milliliters. Switching to wine in a box for the 97 percent of wines that are made to be consumed within a year would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about two million tons, or the equivalent of retiring 400,000 cars.
That sounds amazing. Look at all those savings. Not only that:
What’s more, boxed wine is superior to glass bottle storage in resolving that age-old problem of not being able to finish a bottle in one sitting. Once open, a box preserves wine for about four weeks compared with only a day or two for a bottle. Boxed wine may be short on charm, but it is long on practicality.
While I disagree with the idea that one has half-drunk bottles of wine sitting around for more than a day, there’s something to the idea that a Tetra-Pack of wine keeps longer than a bottle.
One concern comes from the recycling angle. How recyclable are tetra-paks? What are the cradle to grave implications (or, for those in the know, the cradle to cradle implications) of plastic-and-paper Tetra-Paks vs. glass – one of the most recyclable materials known to man.
Another concern is from a hazardous materials point of view. What are the bisphenol levels of Tetra-Pak containers? Higher or lower than the traditional glass? Obviously not lower, as glass contains absolutely no bisphenols. Glass is, in fact, completely non-toxic.
While I am reserving judgement on the box vs bottle debate until I have more information, Mr. Colman’s article does demonstrate the biggest problem I have with most “green” movements out there, namely that they are as short sighted as the companies that are creating the problem in the first place. Just because something is ecologically “cheaper” now doesn’t mean it is more environmentally friendly over the long haul.
We need to start looking at cradle to grave costs of the packaging materials we use, in addition to the environmental impact of creating that packaging. We need to look at the impact of these packaging materials on the food chain, and on people.