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Wine CEO On Sustainable Wine Packaging: Should Be “More Tesla Than Tide”

Santiago Navarro, CEO of Garçon Wines, shared some thoughts about the idea of sustainable wine packaging and how it should be “more Tesla than Tide” in an interview with The Drink Business.

Santiago Navarro, CEO of Garçon Wines, shared some thoughts about the idea of sustainable wine packaging and how it should be “more Tesla than Tide” in an interview with The Drink Business. Garçon Wines produces a 75cl flat wine bottle that is made from 100% recycled plastic — while ensuring that the bottle itself is 100% recyclable. Glass bottles, he stressed, are “no longer acceptable” for the challenges of the 21st century. Interesting.

“We are fans of the progress in bag-in-box. It’s highly motivating, but we also recognize that cans and bag-in-box will likely never challenge a better bottle,” he said. “At the moment the round glass bottle is dominant, but in our view is no longer acceptable for the [environmental] challenges of the 21st century. For us, it is about creating a better bottle that sets a new benchmark in sustainability, but also scalable sustainability. There’s a lot out there that’s sustainable, but not scalable.”

This part of the conversation led to Navarro using an analogy between Tesla and Tide, which makes laundry detergent. In 2018, Tide relaunched its packaging in an eco bag-in-box format to focus on the need to prioritize eco-friendliness rather than beauty.

Tesla, which the article called an electric car company, is a technology company with a central focus on sustainability. Electric cars are just one of its most popular products (and how it started out). Tesla is also known for its visually aesthetic designs, whether the product one buys is a car, a Powerwall, or even a bottle of tequila.

Speaking of the Teslaquilla, the packaging was very minimal, yet beautifully presented. There was no obnoxious bubble wrap or those styrofoam peanuts. There was a thin sheet of foam in the box on the glass (it felt like styrofoam) and a thin plastic bag that the box was placed in — easily recyclable. Neither detracted from the beauty of the presentation of the product.

“You can go full out eco at the expense of beauty when you are doing laundry detergent, but do that in wine and you are probably not going to be the dominant format,” Navarro pointed out. “Wine is similar to cars – both are emotionally driven. Elon Musk realized that electric cars shouldn’t look like golf buggies, but be beautiful. Sustainability decisions in wine also need to be beautiful, both in the eyes of the consumer and mother nature.”

Navarro spoke of his flat bottle — a flat version of the Bordeaux-style bottle that Garçon launched in 2016. A flat Burgundy-style bottle is now also in production. “There is no need to do away with the beauty of the world of wine in order to make the world of wine better suited to the 21st century,” he said.

Fighting Climate Change With Wine Bottle Packaging

The article noted that Garçon launched a partnership with Accolade, which has had its flat bottles appear in UK supermarkets for the first time with Banrock Station’s Merlot and Chardonnay — selling for £7.50 a bottle. Navarro emphasized the importance of addressing the value where Garçon can have the biggest impact. “It’s more important for us to be addressing that value, mass-market space where we can have the biggest impact,” he said.

The Banrock Station bottles are much lighter than traditional glass wine bottles — 87%, to be exact — and half their size. This allows for more bottles on the shelf, in boxes, and on pallets, which improves the efficiency of the supply chain. Navarro gave a nod to Greta Thunberg in talking about his company’s packaging.

“We are producing packaging for Greta Thunberg’s generation when they come of age,” he said, “Those that care for the planet. There are many who will not drink wine from anything other than a glass, round bottle, but they are shrinking in number. We are focusing on the area where we see the most growth, longevity, and hope.”

Navarro also pointed out that the existential threat of climate change is bigger than packaging preferences. “There are entire communities that exist on the bounties of land and they may no longer be able to stay where they have been for generations — France, Italy, Spain.

“If we create climate change migrants in the traditional parts of the wine industry, that will be much more upsetting than a change in the round glass bottle. For me, it’s less important that it’s good for our business, but that it’s good for the industry, the planet, and the economy.”

You can read Navarro’s full interview in The Drink Business.

 
 
 
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Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

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