Following our interview with Austrade last month where we discussed packaging innovation in Australia, we asked Ian Batt, winemaker and founder of Australia’s Small Things Wine (which produces wine in a can) about recyclability, the manufacturing process and sustainability goals.
What inspired you to package your products in cans instead of bottles?
In Australia, we spend much of our lives outdoors, whether it is spending time at the beach, going hiking or camping, or hosting picnics. Glass wine bottles are not the most convenient item to carry around.
They are heavy, and once you open a bottle the wine only lasts a few days. Cans are also more recyclable; not many people are aware that a high proportion of wine glass goes to landfill even if it gets disposed of in your recycling bin.
I wanted to develop a container that would allow our wine to travel with us, but most importantly the wine inside our cans had to exceed expectations. We are actually Western Australia’s first 100% premium wine in can brand.
What results have you seen in terms of recyclability, manufacturing, and transport costs?
Western Australia was the first state in Australia that banned single-use plastic cups [for cold drinks] earlier this year. Cans are a perfect substitute at major events and festivals to reduce packaging waste.
The added benefit of packaging wine in cans is that our supply chain costs are reduced considerably. We can ship a third more wine by volume compared to the cubic volume for shipments of wine bottles.
We also have our own on-site canning facility which ensures we can reduce our carbon footprint by around 30 percent. Supply chain efficiency is incredibly important to us and to our customers.
As a sustainably accredited brand we strive to cut as many energy-absorbing inputs as possible. Currently the wine sector does not provide many climate-smart options for consumers, and I believe we are well-placed to fill the gap in the market.
You own your canning line – how does this affect the manufacturing process?
As a premium wine producer of unfiltered and unfined wine it is essential that we manufacture our own wines to ensure that we provide the highest possible quality wine in every can.
Having our own on-site canning facility also eliminates the need for unnecessary additions like excess sulphur, copper and dimethyl dicarbonate.
What sustainability goals would you like to see the company achieve in the future?
Our vineyards and winery are accredited sustainable through Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. This is Australia’s national program for grape growers and winemakers committed to making sustainable wine.
We source our fruit from Sustainable Winegrowing Australia certified growers. These grapes lower our environmental impact, with the additional benefit of producing wines that are exceptionally expressive of the natural landscape of Margaret River. The next step for us is to become accredited as a brand.
Would you like to see the company expand beyond Australia in the future? What might this look like in terms of transport and packaging?
We currently export to Sweden, Singapore and Japan with the UK and France to follow in 2023. We are excited for the opportunity to be the only ‘wine-in-can’ brand from Australia currently on offer in major Swedish beverage retailer Systembolaget.
The regulatory requirements for sustainable packaging in the Swedish market makes Small Things Wine in can a perfect offering. We are proud to offer Western Australian wine in can to Swedish drinkers and, in the near future, to wine drinkers in other European markets.