The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Beer in glass bottles: Is it best?

New Zealand’s only glass bottle manufacturer, O-I New Zealand, in support of some of Aotearoa’s top craft breweries, recently surveyed attendees at the Wellington Food Show about their thoughts and knowledge on glass packaging.

This year’s Wellington Food Show was the biggest yet, with just under 15,500 people visiting over three days. O-I New Zealand created a stand at the event in collaboration with Sprig & Fern Brewery, Lakeman Brewing Company, Altitude Brewing and Sawmill Brewery.

“Sustainable packaging for food and beverages is very much a global topical issue at the moment,” says Bayard Sinnema O-I’s Australia New Zealand Business Manager. “The Food Show provided an important opportunity for us to survey people and we were happy that more than 400 people who visited our Brewers’ Lane stand gave us their views.”

Of those who participated in the survey, 97% said that they prefer to drink beer out of a glass bottle, and 90% said they agreed or strongly agreed that food and beverages taste better in glass.

“We also received interesting feedback about whether glass packaging conveys a message about products attracting a premium price with 76% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that they would pay a premium for food and beverages packaged in glass,” says Sinnema.

He says that O-I was surprised by the comparatively low level of awareness that glass is infinitely recyclable. “Only 58% of people surveyed knew that glass is infinitely recyclable. The survey also revealed that 33% of respondents were unsure if glass packaging is infinitely recyclable. That means we’ve got more work to do telling the story of glass as a truly sustainable packaging option.”

Lee Brown, Sprig & Fern Brewery General Manager, says that the infinite recyclability of glass is an important consideration for Sprig & Fern Brewery and its customers. “Here at Sprig & Fern we take into consideration not only the recyclability but also the reusability of our consumer offering,” says Brown.

“We spent considerable project development time working with O-I New Zealand and our other suppliers to ensure our new to market 888ml offering had a resealable cap, enabling our consumers to not only recycle but also refill and reuse the vessels at one of our Sprig & Fern Taverns nationwide.”

Brown also says that Sprig & Fern Brewery was drawn to using glass for its sustainability but also because glass provides a longer shelf life for their products, helping to maintain product quality and consistency in line with the Brewery’s brand values.

“We feel that our new 888ml Sprig & Fern craft range presents our product in a vessel design that reflects the true nature of our artisan product in the market.”

James Cooper, co-owner of Lakeman Brewing Company agrees that glass being infinitely recyclable is a huge consideration for both his brewery and customers. “People are changing their ways and coming around to sustainability,” says Cooper. “At the end of the day glass is a great product that’s easier on the environment.”

Eddie Gapper Managing Director of Altitude Brewing says that although recyclability is something that’s important to him and his customers: “Unfortunately glass has gone directly to landfill in the Wakatipu because our waste management systems are completely deficient.”

“Our understanding,” says Sinnema, “after speaking with Penny Garland, Regional Cullet Manager for O-I Asia Pacific, is that as of 1 July 2019, Queenstown Lakes District Council will be introducing a glass kerbside collection service for ratepayers.

“The glass will be collected in a wheelie bins before being transported to the O-I hub in Christchurch,” says Sinnema. “From there it will be coastal shipped to Auckland for recycling at our plant in Penrose, Auckland.”