Could This Be the World's First Zero-Waste Winery?
As the food waste epidemic has become an urgent public issue, producers in the food and beverage industries have sought innovative ways to reduce their landfill footprint. Now, one of the largest family-owned wine producers in Australia has made plans to become the world's very first waste-free winery.
De Bortoli Wines, a producer with four winery sites across the country, has cut down significantly on landfill deposits to 48 tons a year, down from 300 tons a year in 2004. Labeled their "carbon economy project," the company's eco-friendly plan has involved redesigning every element of their business, from composting systems for grape skins, to greener filtration pumps, to better refrigeration and packaging. According to The Guardian, De Bortoli and its third-generation managing director Darren De Bortoli have invested over $15 million dollars towards their goal of becoming waste-free.
Because the winery is spread out to four sites in diverse regional climates, the company's research and efforts to make their process as energy-efficient as possible has had to be uniquely configured four times over. De Bortoli first started focusing on the environmental impact of their production when they underwent an inspection by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). "We had to prepare and submit an environmental assessment to the EPA as part of the expansion plan—that lead to discussions about how we could improve production systems, do things differently," he says.
Following that eye-opening evaluation, the company became one of the founding members of Entwine, the Australian Wine Research Institute's environmental program, which sets standards for the management of waste water and carbon emissions during the production process. De Bortoli also sits on a Winemakers' Federation of Australia committee on environmental policies, where he can advocate for stricter policies across Australian winemaking as a whole.
In addition to eliminating the use of sodium-based chemicals, De Bortoli also found a way to store wastewater to use for irrigating nearby crops. In a major step towards its no-waste goal, the winery also installed rows of compost windows, where excess materials could be broken down into fertilizer. Plus, at the winery's Bilbul location, the company installed a number of solar panels, providing enough energy to allow the company to cut carbon emissions by over 300 tons a year.
Soon, De Bortoli hopes its forward-thinking business will be waste-free and nearly self-reliant, guaranteeing a greener future for the earth, and their wines.