The circular economy in the Champagne industry
Champagne has been taking a circular economy approach for over a century. By recovering the residues and sediments in the distillation process, these by-products can be turned into a host of new products, including bioethanol, potable alcohol, grape seed oil, fertiliser, compost and animal feed. Accordingly, each year about 110,000 tons of wine by-products are recovered in wine distilleries.
In the vineyard, the woody canes of the vines retrieved during the pruning process are crushed and reincorporated into the soil. Thus, each year, 80,000 tons of vine shoots provide organic matter necessary for soil life.
Tangible measures to develop a circular economy
Like any agri-food activity, Champagne production inevitably consumes resources and generates waste. Every year, approximately 10,000 tons of waste are produced. This is unavoidable, and yet, in light of the current environmental challenges, it must be recovered and reused. Today, 92% of waste is treated and recovered.
The Champagne industry is taking action to reduce and recycle its waste as much as possible. It has gone to great lengths, these past thirty years, to turn its waste into resources for other industries. For example, Champagne has contributed to the establishment of a national recycling stream for plastic packaging of cleaning products.
Continuous improvement is at the heart of this approach, to ensure it is holistic in encompassing all the waste from the wine industry.
Companies committed to the circular economy
New measures are being added to the approach all the time, to achieve more sparing resource use and the reuse of waste.
Together with its regional partners and suppliers, the sector has thus set up a program of industrial and territorial ecology aimed at recovering a maximum of resources from its activities. The goal is to transition from a linear economy to a circular economy.
From a linear economy to a circular economy. One person’s waste becomes a resource for others.
A range of worthwhile measures has been implemented:
- Collection and recycling of self-adhesive label materials in partnership with label manufacturers and printers;
- Collection of used corks from the production process and tastings for recycling by the ESAT Les Ateliers de la Vallée (work assistance centre for disabled people) in collaboration with local cork makers;
- Joint purchasing of green energy;
- Collection of broken pallets for repair and reuse;
- Search for opportunities to recycle vine plants and canes.
This company-led circular economy approach involves all local stakeholders in a sustainable and environmental process. By doing so, it creates interaction and jobs and contributes to regional growth.