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Exclusive: Encirc adds major new rail link for UK wine

Published:  25 October, 2023

Harpers can reveal that glass manufacturer and bottler, Encirc, has begun to make use of the railhead at Elton, Cheshire, as part of a major step towards creating an ‘ultra-sustainable’ intermodal transport network for glass in the UK.

As an emerging trend in supply chain management, the company said the use of rail “has serious potential for decreasing carbon emissions”.

The use of the rail network from its site in Elton follows a two-year trial in the UK, where the company imports wine from beverage manufacturers across the world. Post shipping in bulk, the product is then moved to local filling sites by rail, so the ‘last mile’ delivery is as short and efficient as possible.

  • Read more: Lidl and The Wine Society join Bottle Weight Accord to reduce glass globally

The rail addition will have a ‘potentially huge impact on the way wine is transported in the country’, the company said. Each tonne of freight transported by rail produces 76% fewer carbon emissions compared with road transportation.

Oliver Harry, head of corporate affairs at Encirc, explained: “The attitude in the UK is too often that, if any of the journey has to be on the road, then the whole journey has to be. This just isn’t the case. Even if it’s a case of adding more legs to the journey, or setting up more local distribution centres, what we and our partners save in emissions is significant. Each load of bottles and jars transported by rail is equivalent to taking 66 lorries off the road, and there’s no substitute for that.”

Encirc has a clear eye on the environmental benefits of – and changing consumer perception towards – bulk shipping.

According to a study carried out by environmental consultants Carbon Intelligence, in collaboration with Encirc, the switch to local bottling cuts the transport carbon footprint by an average of 42%.

Around 90% of many businesses’ carbon footprint lies in their value chain, either upstream in the supply chain or downstream across the product’s use life. Both upstream and downstream, intermodal transport has a serious role to play; and there are emissions savings to be had by thinking differently about how things travel from A to B, the company said.

Supported by WH Malcolm, MDS Transmodal and Cheshire West Council, the rail trials began in 2021 with the successful delivery of wine bottles to a customer in Scotland. Most recently, Encirc has been transporting bottles to the company’s newly acquired filling site, The Park, in Bristol.