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Champagne only comes from Champagne, France
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Sustainable viticulture

The accountable management of water, effluent, by-products and waste

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.

Water management

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.

Water conservation remains a priority, without ever compromising high standards of hygiene in pressing centres, cuveries (units housing the fermenting vats) and other work premises.

Wastewater management

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.

By-products and waste

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.

  • Eighty per cent of wood waste is shredded in the vineyards, where it gradually decomposes helping to maintain soil humus content.
  • The remaining 20% is burned, offering a potential for energy recovery that is currently being explored within the context of the climate action plan (see below).
  • The marc (or pommace) is delivered to authorised distilleries where it is broken down by separation and extraction. A wide range of compounds are recovered for recycling:
    • ethanol for industrial use and motor fuel;
    • grape-seed oil; polyphenols, anti-oxidants and natural colour pigments; tartaric acid with potential application in processed foods, cosmetics and human health products;
    • co-products used as organic fertilizers;
    • carbon-based additives used as animal feed ingredients.

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:

  • Waste prevention (also known as source reduction), mainly by switching to eco-friendly packaging and lighter glass bottles (see also below ‘Climate action plan’).
  • The setting-up of a membership scheme for all Champagne stakeholders via subscriptions to firms providing community-based, domestic waste collection and reuse services (eg Adelphe and Ecoemballage).

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. 

Sustainable viticulture

A pioneering commitment