Wine boxes are making a comeback, filling the glasses of college students and oenophiles alike. But the classic bag-in-box (BIB) model isn’t the only glass-bottle alternative. Wineries have begun using PET plastic wine bottles and Tetra Paks (often used in juice boxes).
The greenest choice: wine made from organic grapes in a BPA-free, BIB container printed with soy-based inks and sealed with cornstarch. Only a few wineries have come this far, so don’t worry if you can’t find a box of wine with these exact specifications.
BIB packaging still packs an environmental punch. A BIB uses a plastic bag fitted with a nozzle and nestled inside a cardboard box. Compared to the glass bottle, it is both lighter and more efficiently packed for shipping, which reduces its carbon footprint. The box and plastic bag inside are both recyclable, so long as your area accepts no. 7 plastic. That kind of plastic, however, is often made with Bisphenol A (BPA). To make sure the bag is BPA-free, inquire with the winery. Each box usually holds three or four traditional 750-milliliter bottles, and its collapsing vacuum bag and airtight nozzle keep wine fresh for up to a month after opening. At the cost equivalent of about $5 a bottle, these wines beat their bottle counterparts for price.
According to a life-cycle inventory of the production, transportation, and post-consumer recycling of Tetra Paks, glass bottles, and PET bottles, delivering 1,000 liters of wine in Tetra Paks uses less energy and produces less greenhouse gas than plastic PET bottles and traditional glass bottles, which clock in at 922 and 1,926 pounds respectively.
Tetra Paks are made from a composite of paperboard, aluminum, and polyolefin resins, but only the paper portion can be recycled. o find out if Tetra Paks are recyclable where you live, visit www.recyclecartons.com.
To see which boxed wines stood out in a blind taste-test, visit www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Issue/story?oid=517615.
Information on the environmental benefits and suggested food pairings of specific boxed wines: www.thedailygreen.com/healthy-eating/eat-safe/boxed-wine-reviews-50082609.