Why experts say wine is tainted by a refilled bottle
Wineries rally against Environment Ministry plans to re-use half of bottles.22 January 2008
MADRID - It's not just the plastics industry that is angry about the government's national residues plan.
The Environment Ministry has demanded that 50 percent of wine bottles are re-used, an idea that has angered the wine industry. The Spanish wine federation argues that its products will be adversely affected by putting them into old bottles.
"In environmental terms this is a disproportionate measure that will do more harm than good," says the federation. It goes on to argue that the government is trying to persuade the sector "to sell wine to restaurants in reusable bottles that will be filled several times."
In fact, the environment ministry's plan is less precise, and simply says that its intention is for 50 percent of wine bottles to be reusable by 2010.
Indeed, this Spanish government plan to recycle wine bottles threatens the future of 3,500 small wineries, which will struggle to adapt to the new requirements.
Spain's powerful wine industry, which has already managed to halt the government's anti-alcohol legislation, considers that the use of non-reusable glass is necessary "given the qualities of this material, and for the conservation of the product, and its presentation to the consumer," adding that it is also "essential to the preparation of the wine."
The wine federation adds: "In the denomination of origin of a wine, as well as in other areas of wine manufacture related to the quality of the wine, glass is more than just the container: it is the material that will contain a vintage wine for months and months while it undergoes the traditional ageing process."
The country's leading wineries have pressed their case to the environment ministry, saying that wines must spend years in a bottle to be able to claim denomination of origin and the status of various vintages.
Wineries say that this cannot be achieved through "the use of tins or plastic bottles." They add that in the case of sparkling wines, the second stage of fermentation takes place in the bottle.
"It's unfair for such a measure to be proposed by the environment ministry on a sector that contributes more than one million hectares of photosynthesis.
"We are forgetting, for example, that the Spanish wine industry contributes to the elimination of carbon dioxide, and that each hectare acts as a counterbalance to the pollution produced by a motor vehicle," says Pau Roca, the Spanish wine federation's secretary general.
Wine producers say that glass that is collected from containers should be recycled, which are paid for in part by the industry. Some 51 percent of glass is already recycled in this way, but the government wants to increase the figure to 80 percent.
[Copyright EL PAÍS 2008]
Subject: Spanish news