‘Vin in a tin’: Waitrose cans mini wine bottles in carbon-cutting measure

Supermarket’s switch from glass to aluminium cans expected to halve carbon footprint per drink

Waitrose is canning the mini wine bottle in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of takeaway drinks.

The supermarket plans to switch all of its 187ml glass wine bottles – except those containing champagne, prosecco, cava and rioja because of restrictions imposed by those particular appellations – to aluminium cans by next week. The cans will come in 187ml, 200ml and 250ml sizes.

The move to “vin in a tin” is expected to save more than 300 tonnes of glass packaging and will halve the carbon footprint per drink because the recyclable cans require less energy to transport as they are lighter and take up less space than bottles.

The move comes after the popularisation of “gin in a tin” and other canned cocktails, particularly during the pandemic lockdowns, which prompted outdoor drinking and picnics.

Drinks makers have been seeking alternative packaging because the price of glass has almost tripled since the start of the pandemic amid increased demand for other material besides plastic packaging.

The price of aluminium has also risen but by about a third, according to data from letsrecycle.com. Waitrose said it would not necessarily make cost savings from the policy shift as it cost more to fill a can.

Barry Dick, the beer, wine and spirit bulk sourcing manager at Waitrose, which last year bought in 3m small wine bottles, said: “We’re delighted to pioneer this move and make reducing waste even easier for our customers. We know that more people are buying their drinks in canned formats, from cocktails on the go to craft beer, which is why making this shift in our wine category makes so much sense.

“Picking up a can of wine is a great way to enjoy wine in moderation, especially if you’re heading to a picnic or social occasion. It also enables customers to try a new variety without worrying about wastage or cost. We hope the move will encourage suppliers to continue to develop a diverse and exciting range of wines in cans.”

The new cans will include a wide range of grape choices including whites, reds and rosés from Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.

In the UK about three-quarters of aluminium cans and glass bottles are recycled, mostly through local authority kerbside collections, according to the government.

While cans and bottles can be infinitely recyclable (with glass sorting plants now able to ensure the material can be used to make new bottles, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme) in the past a large proportion of glass waste was used for building aggregate.

Scotland and Wales plan to include glass bottles in deposit return schemes expected to launch this summer and next year respectively, but the UK government said this would not be so for the English and Northern Ireland versions, which will focus on plastic bottles.


Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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