Champagne Gets a Green Makeover
You won't necessarily notice it, but your Champagne is about to get greener. Champagne producers have recently standardized a new lighter-weight bottle designed to reduce carbon emissions generated during transport by 8,000 metric tons annually - the equivalent of taking 4,000 cars off the road.
Sure, you say, another group of producers jumping on the green bandwagon. But this was no easy feat. Each bottle of bubbly contains 6 Gs of force -- for the non-rocket scientists among us, that's about 60 pounds of pressure per square inch, similar to the pressure found in a tire on an 18-wheeler. So the bottles are thick and heavy for a reason. However, working with local glass designers, the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC), the region's trade group, was able to shave about 2 ounces from the glass bottle without compromising safety. The lighter weight allows producers to pack more bottles per truckload or container, cutting down on the number of shipments.
The move is part of a broader initiative by Champagne makers to cut carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, and a whopping 75% by 2050.
That's just one of many steps the industry is taking. Champagne makers are also working to reduce emissions generated in the vineyards, by cutting down on the use of pesticides and fertilizer (which are made with petroleum derivatives), using more biofuels, and encouraging winemakers to ditch their generations-old equipment for newer, more efficient machines (a sort of Gallic Cash for Clunkers).
The new eco-friendly bottles have been tested and are already in circulation. But starting with this year's harvest, the lighter bottle will become standard. Since Champagne is aged for at least 18 months before being released onto the market, by 2012 or 2013, the switchover for non-vintage Champagnes, which make up 85% of the market, should be complete.
Now that's something to toast to.