14 Nov 2009

Marlborough winemaker switches to plastic bottles

2:22 pm on 14 November 2009

A New Zealand winemaker is switching to using plastic bottles, saying it will make the wine more environmentally friendly.

Yealands Estate in Marlborough has just filled its first batch of sauvignon blanc in plastic bottles, which will appear on store shelves in about a week.

It believes it is the first time a New Zealand winemaker has used plastic bottles for wine and says the process is safe.

Yealands Estate owner Peter Yealand says about 10% of his sauvignon blanc will be sold in plastic bottles within the next two years.

He says the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles weigh just 50g compared with a 500g glass bottle, which makes it better for the environment.

"I'm aiming to be the most sustainable wine producer in the world, and as part of our goal we look at ways that we can move towards achieving that."

Mr Yealand says a lot of energy is wasted moving heavy weight glass throughout New Zealand and worldwide.

He believes the plastic bottles also offers practical benefits for festival-goers and campers.

The bottles will have an 18-month best-by date, as oxygen could spoil the wine. They are not biodegradable, but can be recycled.

Wine critic Keith Stewart says selling wine in plastic bottles is commendable, as long as it is safe for people's health and the environment.