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Environmental Advocates Ardagh Group: Innovations in Traditional Wine Packaging

You may have heard about a number of alternative wine packaging solutions – helix & cork glass closures, specialty molds, canned wines, etc. – but alternative packaging still comprises a very small part of all wine packaging, and the traditional wine bottle is evolving as well.

Ardagh Group is one company making big strides in design and sustainability, offering unique packaging solutions with efficiencies that allow them to quickly respond to customer demands.  They’re the largest producer of glass wine bottles made 100% in the United States, serving a broad customer base in the wine industry. Their customers, ranging from small, family-owned wineries to larger players, include Constellation Brands, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Jackson Family Wines, and Vintage Wine Estates. John T Shaddox, General Manager of Wine and Ardagh Direct at Ardagh Group, states that their mission is “to deliver superior service through partnerships with wineries of all sizes as they build and enhance their brands with innovative, infinitely-recyclable North American-made glass packaging.”

Now more than ever, consumers are demanding sustainable, eco-friendly solutions in all aspects of their lives. Ardagh Group meets those demands with their 100% recyclable glass packaging. Shaddox points out that glass “can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity. Recycled glass is always part of the recipe for making glass wine bottles, and it can be substituted for up to 95% of raw materials.”

After glass is recycled in the U.S., it could be back on the store shelf in as little as 30 days. Glass is also an excellent packaging choice due to the fact that it’s ocean-safe as well as inert, so it doesn’t harm marine life.

Ardagh Group’s sustainability impact has been recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2018, three of their facilities received the ENERGY STAR® Plant Certification, indicating that they fall into the top 25% of facilities nationwide for energy efficiency.  They also adhere to a standard called ISO 14001, a voluntary standard that organizations within any industry can certify to. The ISO provides a framework for organizations to follow for an effective environmental management system. All of Ardagh Group’s North American glass manufacturing facilities are ISO 14001 certified, making them a packaging industry environmental leader.

Ardagh Group facilities also stand out in terms of their advanced design capabilities and their manufacturing efficiencies. According to Shaddox, “Our Development Machine, located in Port Allegany, Penn., is capable of simulating every manufacturing condition to make glass bottles with a variety of heights, weights and diameters, and can produce glass packaging that incorporates the latest design trends, including unique shapes, textures and embossing. This provides a speed-to-market advantage to brand owners, contributing to a 30% reduction in new product lead times.”

Part of their speed-to-market advantage comes from their sales and technical support teams located in North America; unlike wine packaging suppliers that are based overseas and therefore aren’t able to respond to customer demands as quickly. BOB™, their site for wine (wine.buyourbottles.com), also allows vintners to order pallet-specific quantities of glass wine bottles and pay with a credit card or PayPal account. Ardagh’s FlexRun® service, which allows the simultaneous production of two unique bottles on the same machine, provides any winery with the increased flexibility to purchase specialty bottles in smaller than truckload quantities – the typical minimum order requirement of many other wine packaging suppliers.

Ardagh Group stays on top of emerging trends in alternative wine packaging, one of which is the demand for more premium options. According to a customer survey, over 80% of wine drinkers believe that wine is best when bottled in glass. Ardagh addresses this market in a number of ways. They recently introduced several new stock wine bottle designs, including single-serve and other small format bottles. Shaddox tells us that they also offer “a wide-range of wine bottles in a variety of weights, styles, colors and sizes from which sustainability-focused wineries can choose, including our ECO Series® collection. This series meets the same standards of technical and aesthetic quality as traditional bottles, while providing more efficient and sustainable transportation options for customers.”

It’s clear that the future of wine packaging is green and Ardagh Group hopes that others in the industry will also advance into making their practices more eco-friendly. Shaddox serves on the membership committee of the Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC) and is actively seeking new participants to help further GRC’s initiatives. To learn more about the advantages of eco-friendly glass packaging made in North America, visit UpgradetoGlass.com.

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