The Circular Economy of 100% Sicily’s Glass Bottles – Made in Sicily, for Sicilians.
The ‘100% Sicily’ wine bottles created by O-I Glass have successfully closed their local recycling loop! This circular project involves glass bottles that are created from locally recycled materials in a Sicilian production plant, before being sold and distributed by regional winemakers.
The global organic wine market is expected to grow over 10% within the next ten years, and consumers are becoming more interested in sustainably produced products. A study conducted by the Wine Institute in California found that roughly 30% of a wine bottle’s carbon footprint comes from the glass itself, and a large portion of these emissions are attributed to its transportation.
Sicily is one of Italy’s most productive and prestigious wine regions. The Sicilian climate allows wine grapes to thrive and develop rich, distinctive flavour properties. Sustainability is at the heart of Sicilian winemaking, with many local wine vendors taking pride in the high quantities of organic grapes that are found in the region. What better way to express this pride than by selling a product that is entirely Sicilian, from the grapes themselves to the glass that the wine is bottled in! Glass is a material that is infinitely recyclable, allowing for the potential of a closed loop recycling project.
O-I and Sicilians close the glass bottle loop together
The initiative launched by O-I and their ‘100% Sicily’ bottles rely heavily on the cooperation and involvement of Sicilians at all stages of the production process. Their glass bottles are made with both a high rate of locally recycled glass (90%). Recycled glass is collected by Sarco, an environmental waste services company that not only retrieves glass but also recovers secondary raw materials. Their involvement allows glass to be cleaned, separated, and prepared to be made into glass once more, all without ever leaving the region. The glass is then turned into bottles at O-I’s glass manufacturing plant in Marsala, before being distributed and sold by local wine producers. The reduced transportation of these glass bottles not only results in a notable reduction in carbon emissions, but also generates employment on a regional level, directly benefiting the local economy.
The ‘100% Sicily’ bottles can be identified by a symbol engraved on the bottom of the bottle that denotes the island of Sicily and the sustainable life cycle of the glass itself. These bottles have been embraced by local wine makers, who see the value added by being able to market an entirely local, sustainable product. This closed loop is an opportunity for Sicilian wine producers to bring their region’s heritage and pride in their locally produced wines to the forefront of their marketing campaigns.
The success of the ‘100% Sicily’ circular project is largely due to Sicilians embracing it on all levels, from the recycling and collection of glass to wine makers’ enthusiasm in joining the venture. Moreover, their success in closing the glass loop provides a potential template for regional wine industries throughout Europe to adopt very similar sustainable production methods.
Expanding glass’ circularity across Europe
This is increasingly viable as recent data shows the glass collection rate in Europe to be at 80%. The glass production loop already contains around 52% recycled glass, indicating that it may be possible to adapt this circular economy onto a larger scale. There are already indications that the ‘100% Sicily’ closed loop will be expanding into other Italian wine regions, and the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Sicilia DOC is in the process of deciding whether all of Sicily should adopt 100% Sicilia’s approach.
O-I Glass’ closed loop initiative shows that all aspects of wine production can be achieved sustainably, and not only add value to the local wine region but also are economically beneficial for the area. Their initiative has garnered positive attention and as Letizia Russo, board member of the Sicilia DOC, summarises, the project is “using raw material from Sicily, bottling the wine in Sicily and selling it locally, creating an entirely closed loop economic exercise.” Made in Sicily, for Sicilians.
For over 120 years, O-I Glass has been one of the leading global manufacturers for food, beverages, drugs and chemical products. They manufacture glass in over 20 companies worldwide and are industry innovators, proud of the capabilities that glass possesses to reflect a brand’s ethos through its packaging design. They are the first company in the packaging industry to issue a ‘Green Bond’, committing to sustainability through glass packaging. O-I innovates in line with customers’ needs to create iconic packaging that builds brands around the world. Learn more: o-i.com / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / LinkedIn.