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Closures debate: Alessandro Bocchio of Guala Closures Group sets the case

Published:  10 March, 2009

Alessandro Bocchio , global wine co-ordinator of the Guala Closures Group stands up for his company's beliefs and standards in the closures debate

We have tried to maintain a dignified silence on the closures debate, but the latest spat of erroneous claims made by certain cork producers means we can no longer afford to remain silent.

First of all: aluminium is recyclable

? Aluminium - infinitely and easily recyclable
Recovering and recycling aluminium allows you to save 95% of the energy necessary to produce it from a raw material. "Aluminium can be recycled over and over again without loss of properties, and aluminium scrap is collected and melted everywhere in the world". GARC (Global Aluminium Recycling committee)

And it's so easy for the consumer to do. Cans and other aluminium products have been recycled for a long time and so has glass, which means if a wine is sealed with a screwcap then the entire bottle can be recycled - the companies who collect them simply separate the aluminium from the glass and send the two different materials on their way.

? 'Glocal' production
Screwcaps can be produced locally, whereas cork is only produced around the Mediterranean. So, screwcaps avoid the need for long distance transportation which is very much associated with the carbon emissions everyone is talking about.

? Carbon Footprint?
When it comes to CO2 footprint emissions, the truth is that whether it's a screwcap or a cork, the closure is a tiny factor in the energy consumption needed to produce a bottle of wine. According to research by the American Association of Wine Economists, any kind of closure only represents 1.5% of the total footprint of the entire bottle. In recent comparison surveys, the fact that corks also need a capsule or sleeve to fully seal the bottle was not taken into account - not to mention the emissions generated by producing the corkscrews needed to open the bottle!

? What is the carbon cost of a wine destroyed by cork taint?
Let Australian Wine Writer Tyson Seltzer explain.... "Last night I pulled a cork out of a bottle and, what would you know, it was corked! So, right that minute, I jumped in my car and drove 4km to my nearest bottle shop (1000g of CO2 right there) to seek a replacement. The CO2 cost of producing and shipping that bottle was 3000g, plus another 1000g for me to drive it home. My corked bottle just cost me 5kg of CO2. How many screwcaps can I use for the "price" of that one cork? 140. So, if cork taint, random oxidation and corky flavour affect less than one bottle in one hundred and forty, then my cork-sealed bottles have a smaller carbon footprint than my screwcapped. If not, I'd rather put my feet up with an untainted wine than spend my evening driving back to the shop. Let's not spend our energy trying to save the planet 35.6g at a time, when eliminating closure faults would save it 5kg at a time." - Tyson Stelzer, QLD. (Sources for Tyson's calculations are available on request from

Having read the above information, perhaps you would like to help us ...


? Save The Wines!
Millions and millions of cork-sealed bottles of wine are wasted and poured down the sink every year due to cork taint or random oxidation. If we consider that TCA could ruin around 5% of the global worldwide wine production this works out at hundreds of millions of bottles a year! In other words, an enormous waste of energy needed to produce the grapes, carry out the harvest, produce the wine, bottle and ship it for export...not to mention the energy of the retailer or barman stocking the wines in a far away country.

Only in the wine industry is it acceptable for 5% of a finished product to prove unusable.

? Totally secure
As soon as you twist the screwcap, you break its original seal which means you can be sure the bottle does not contain fake (ie. bad!) wine. The original wine, as it was intended by the winemaker, really is inside.

? Take home your bottle
You might not want to drink the entire bottle of wine that you have ordered in a restaurant, and with a screwcap it is easy to simply close the bottle and take the rest home with you. This is not possible with a plastic cork or stopper as the flavour of the left-over wine can change after only a couple of hours of not being sealed properly.

So, is the closure type a serious green issue or is it just a marketing bandwagon driven by some leading cork industry companies to save their 'shrinking' businesses?

? Stop making erroneous claims!
The cork industry says there are dioxins in the plastic seal used in screwcaps. This is wrong and misleading. The liners used are all certified as suitable for food packaging and the claim that there is 'aluminium contamination' is nonsense. Aluminium has long been used to wrap or bottle all kinds of food and beverages with absolutely no risk of contamination.

Research. At Guala Closures Group there are around 25 people dedicated to research and design for closures. With more than 50 years' experience and expertise as a company, we probably have the most sophisticated R&D centre dedicated to the closures industry in the world. Don't think that the cork industry is the only one working on research - as well as owning more than 60 active patents, we have thrown ourselves into finding out how wine permeability actually works.

THE GUALA CLOSURES COMMITMENT. In every aspect of our work and production, Guala Closures Group strives to be as environmentally-friendly as possible. Thanks to the most modern technologies available today, we have set up a general programme for saving energy - from the installation of solar panels and replacing hydraulic presses with electric ones to using inks produced with a low carbon footprint.

The bottom line is that the wine market is large enough to support a range of closure solutions according to individual requirements.