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The management of water and winery wastewater is a long-standing preoccupation in Champagne, with the first initiatives in this area dating back to the mid 1980s.
Average annual water consumption by the Champagne industry is roughly equivalent to the total domestic water use of a town with a population of around 20,000. Total water withdrawals for the industry as a whole are eight times less than the average for French agriculture, which mainly withdraws water for irrigation (forbidden in Champagne).
Use of water within the winery itself amounts to about two litres per shipped bottle of Champagne (4.1 litres for combined vineyard/winery operations). This is slightly higher than the global average for wine production – close to the average for soft drink production but significantly lower than for the brewing industry.
Champagne producers use various methods to reduce their consumption of water. These include: the eco-design or eco-refurbishment of buildings; improved systems of water purification, recycling and/or collection; and a general reduction in water wastage wherever possible.
Cellar hygiene depends on frequent cleaning, which in turn generates wastewater-borne organic matter. The annual average flow of wastewater from Champagne production can be as much as for a town with 200,000 people.
The equipping of wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) began in earnest in the mid 1990s and has continued apace since then. Total WWTP expenditure, over the past decade represents well in excess of 40 millions Euros. Today, 100% of wastewater and winery liquid waste is either treated or recovered for reuse.
The bulk of the waste and by-products generated by Champagne wine and grape production is recovered for reuse.
By-products of Champagne production: approximately 120,000 metric tonnes per year of wood waste generated by pruning and grubbing-up; plus another 120,000 metric tonnes per year of ‘marc’ (pommace) generated by 2,000 pressing centres.
Waste generated by activities linked to Champagne production: approximately 10,000 metric tonnes per year of so-called industrial waste (metal, wood and packaging materials including plastic, paper or and cardboard). The focus is on implementing regional solutions to industrial waste reuse, using methods explained in a practical handbook on waste management specially written for winegrowers.
Today, 90 % of industrial waste is sorted and processed for reuse, aiming for 100 per cent recovery in the near future.
Waste generated by Champagne consumption: consumers discard more than 300,000 metric tonnes waste per year, principally glass (90 %), plus cardboard, paper, aluminium, steel, cork and plastic.
Two special measures are now in place to address the issue of post-consumer waste:
Reducing and recovering waste from start to finish is an ongoing priority for the Champagne industry, targeted by bold measures that testify to the collective commitment of all stakeholders.
Ainsi, du berceau à la tombe, tous les déchets et sous-produits provenant des activités de production et de commercialisation font l’objet d’une grande attention et de mesures concrètes de valorisation de la part des opérateurs champenois.
A pioneering commitment