Oct 30, 2023

One Wine at a Time: Sustainable Packaging Is Slowly Making Inroads

As consumers become more open to alternative packaging, companies that push the limits are gaining ground globally.

By Simone Madden-Grey

An ongoing challenge for wine production relates to packaging, specifically the energy-hungry production and recycling of traditional glass bottles. Three companies are offering creative solutions to balance a preference for wine in-bottle with sustainability.

Frugal Bottle

Modelled on the traditional Bordeaux bottle, the Frugal Bottle is a lightweight, sustainable packaging format made from 94% recycled paperboard. British company Frugalpac worked with Italian producer Cantina Goccia to release the first wine in a Frugal Bottle in June 2020.

Cantina Goccia has since increased SKUs in this format, increased market availability and moved 80% of its wine production to paper bottles. As a result, the company received awards for technical innovation and sustainable design at the 2023 PAC Global Packaging Awards in New York.

The Frugal Bottle separates liquid and paper through the use of a certified recyclable food-grade plastic pouch. Selecting recycled paperboard for production, coupled with its lightweight design, reduces carbon emissions significantly.

Co-packing filling lines are located in several countries and, earlier this year, Canadian company KinsBrae Packaging purchased the first Frugal Bottle Assembly Machine. Offering an end-to-end service including bottle design and purchase, filling and capping, the industry response has been overwhelming, says Shawn Bonnick, president of Kinsbrae Packaging. "Customers who have moved to the paper bottle [from glass] have seen an increase in sales."

The number of producers using this format is increasing with Frugal Bottle available in 18 markets including Japan, North America, the UK, across Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Packamama Eco-Bottles

The eco-bottle designed by Packamama is 83% lighter than many glass bottles, and its flatpack design allows up to twice the number of eco-bottles per pallet, reducing transportation emissions and increasing operational efficiency.

The bottle is made using recycled PET, which is produced at temperatures more than six times lower than glass and with 70-80% fewer emissions than virgin PET. Without the cap, the eco-bottle can also be returned to residential recycling in Australia and with the cap in most countries. The format has received several awards and is used by producers across the globe, including LVMH and Miguel Torres Chile.

In Australia, Accolade Wines and Taylors Wines (known as Wakefield Wines in the UK and United States) partnered with national supermarket chain Coles in June 2022 to trial Packamama eco-bottles made entirely from Australian-sourced recycled PET plastic. "Post launch and within a couple of months, the response was such that the four SKUs were given permanent listings and three extra SKUs were given listings, increasing to seven SKUs and doubling the store distribution to around 400 stores," says Amelia Dales, commercial director, Packamama.

"From insights shared," says Dales, "we understand that the brands in our bottles are driving new customers to Coles stores and that consumers purchasing the brands in our bottles are increasing their share of spend."

wine ecoTOTE

Circular packaging technology company ecoSPIRITS offers a closed-loop packaging and distribution system that removes the need for single-use glass bottles and reduces packaging waste. The system uses ecoPLANT facilities to sanitize, refill and deliver ecoTOTES to participating hospitality venues. The first wine ecoPLANT was launched in partnership with Accolade Wines, Australia in June 2022.

Existing ecoSPIRITS technology was redesigned to meet the specific challenges of handling premium wine, such as hygiene, oxidation, temperature control and UV light protection, while also meeting standards for organic and biodynamic certification. The wine ecoTOTE has a 4.5L capacity and the inner glass vessel is housed in an engineered plastic enclosure together with an aluminium shock chassis. "It can circle up to 150 times in a closed-loop system without significant impact damage," says Paul Gabie, CEO of ecoSPIRITS.

On-premise waste is reduced by an in-built preservation system and sustainability credentials can be signalled through the design of customer branded ecoTOTES, coupled with the ecoSPIRITS glass stopper and paper seal. In the retail sector, a self-serve wine refill product leveraging existing SmartKiosk technology is also in development.

Late 2022 saw the announcement of U.S. ecoPLANT locations, with California and Florida the first to come online; in mid-2023, ecoSPIRITS raised significant capital investment from companies such as Pernod Ricard, further demonstrating industry confidence in sustainable packaging technology.

As the demand for eco-friendly options increases, creativity, innovation and technology are helping the wine industry respond to policy and legislative requirements — as well as consumer preferences — for sustainable packaging options.


Simone Madden-Grey

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Simone Madden-Grey writes about the people, places and stories she has discovered on her travels. Her portfolio can be found at, including articles on climate and sustainability in the wine industry, as well as the wines, regions and gourmet destinations of Australia and her home country, New Zealand.