When I originally set up Tipple Talk, I wanted to use minimal plastic and eventually be plastic free. I feel strongly about plastic, as I associate it with single use waste, pollution and animal cruelty (if you need any more convincing, check out BBC One's War on Plastic). So I ordered recycled cardboard boxes for posting out and glass bottles, believing that these two decisions alone would be the best environmentally for the company and my customers. Ironically, I ended up investing in metres and metres of plastic bubble-wrap to protect the glass bottles I was posting out, terrified that a bottle would break and tarnish the whole experience. Thus defeating the point.
A family friend contacted me after the first wine club and asked if there was any way to send bottles back to Tipple Talk HQ, so they could be recycled and re-used. It was a very good point, and something I sought to implement in the coming months. But when I did more research, it transpired that the price of posting bottles back was considerably more expensive than buying new bottles! Plus the time it would take to wash and sterilise hundreds of bottles every month was not appealing (if they didn't break on the way back to me in the first place that is). Plus the energy required to produce virgin glass and then ship hundreds of these bottles from Manchester (where the bottles are purchased from) to Hampshire and then back out to customers every month.
Glass also weighs a hell of a lot. Each of the 50ml "derby" glass bottles (pictured left) weigh 0.1kg. When there are six bottles in a pack, full of wine, each box weighs around 1kg. This of course doubles if the box contains 12 bottles for a couple to enjoy. 6 empty rPET bottles (pictured right) weigh less than 1 empty glass bottle, and when filled with wine, weigh in at under 500g. I posted out to 50 customers last month and for November's wine club I have 70 customers signed up. This is a huge carbon footprint reduction, which I'm really pleased with.
From a wine tasting point of view, using 100% recycled plastic bottles has no impact on aroma or flavour short-term. I have trialled this by tasting wines, pouring the same wines into rPET bottles, leaving them for 7 days and then re-tasting (it's a hard life etc). So at the end of the day, it's purely aesthetics. Of course I prefer the "look" of glass bottles, but maybe that's because I am accustomed to it. I rather detest the notion of "we're doing this because we've always done it this way." Continuing with glass bottles because "that's how wine has always been served" no longer sits well with me, particularly when there is so much evidence to contradict traditional practices.
Lastly, these 100% recycled rPET bottles can be recycled again after your wine tasting. All you need to do is rinse them out, re-screw the lids back on to the bottles (this is really important so the lids do not end up in landfill!) and put them into your regular plastic recycling. As 380 million tonnes of new plastics are produced every year and only around 40% are being recycled, it makes sense for Tipple Talk to become a business that seeks to take some of these plastics out of the waste cycle. I hope you will join me in embracing a new kind of wine tasting experience where we all do our bit to promote a more circular economy.