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Wine Society targets ambitious carbon reduction pathways

Published:  13 March, 2023

The Wine Society has conducted what is describes as a “root and branch investigation” into its carbon footprint to help better define a roadmap to seriously curtailed Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

The company has set itself the targets reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 100% by 2028, and reducing Scope 3 emissions by 50% by 2032, with the aim of becoming net zero across all Scopes by 2040.

“As part of our commitment to be carbon net zero by 2040, we’ve completed our first in-depth carbon footprint with external experts 3Keel. We’ve learned a lot about our impact through the footprint process, and this has allowed us to put a detailed plan in place. There’s no one solution to climate change – our plan includes measures big and small across the business and our supply chain,” said Dom de Ville, The Wine Society’s head of sustainability.

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“Our overall footprint for 2021 was 16,488 tonnes CO2e, with 60% coming from the production and packaging of wine (bottles and boxes). We’ve already put measures in place to reduce this figure, such as right-weighting bottles, removing capsules on our own-label range where possible and moving to a renewable energy provider.”

As with many in the drinks trade, the figures unearthed by the Society’s review are telling of the challenges involved, in that Scope 1 and 2 emissions account for just 6.6% of the overall carbon footprint, with 93.4% coming from Scope 3 activities, effectively beyond the immediate footprint of operating the UK offices and warehouse.

“Cutting carbon emissions requires work across our whole business and value chain. This includes packaging, wine production, marketing materials, operations and third-party logistics,” added de Ville.

To help achieve these goals, The Wine Society is to launch a programme of ‘insetting’ in 2024, eschewing payments into offsetting schemes to instead invest the equivalent funds into producer-focused projects that will “capture and store carbon, reduce emissions and enhance biodiversity”.

In addition to many other areas of business targeted for carbon reduction, that criteria will also be firmly embedded in procurement decisions, while the company will also work with shippers to “identify the most energy efficient ways to transport wine”.

By 2027, The Wine Society has pledged that it will only buy wines from growers and producers who have begun actively measuring, tracking and reducing their carbon emissions.

“We are on our journey and have more to learn, but we want to give our members confidence that we are being sufficiently ambitious and are doing the right thing,” said de Ville.

“We also want to encourage others. The environment isn’t a commercial battleground, but a shared responsibility. Transparency and shared approaches across industry helps us all get better quicker.”