Category: Packaging

Alternative Corks Get Greener

Nomacorc, a producer of alternative wine closures, has completed its first full life cycle analysis (LCA) study on its flagship Nomacorc Classic+ product. The results show significant improvements across all environmental impact categories between 2008 and 2011, according to the company.
 
Reasons for these improvements include a more efficient product formulation, switching to local raw material suppliers, shipping efficiencies and greater use of renewable energy sources.
 
“This LCA study showcases the steady and remarkable progress that Nomacorc has made to minimize the environmental footprint of our closures,” said Lars von Kantzow, president & CEO, Nomacorc. “It also demonstrates Nomacorc’s commitment to understanding and continuing to address the full range of environmental impacts of our closures from a life cycle perspective.”
 
The LCA methodology examines a broad range of environmental impacts related to each phase of production, use and disposal of Nomacorc closures. The study was conducted for both of Nomacorc’s major manufacturing facilities; one located in the U.S. and the other in Belgium, in the years 2008 and 2011.
 
The core LCA study measures the environmental impacts for every step of the life cycle of a Classic+ closure from “cradle” (raw materials extraction), to “gate” (the distribution of finished closures to customers).  For closures produced in Belgium between 2008 and 2011, the study showed dramatic improvements, with a reduction of impacts ranging from 13% to 92%. The improvements achieved in Belgium are largely attributable to the company’s purchase of 100% wind energy to power the facility. For closures produced in the U.S., the study also showed a strong reduction of impacts of ranging from 10% to 23% across all environmental indicators between 2008 and 2011. 
 
Because the product is consumed in a variety of different countries, a number of possible scenarios exist for Nomacorc closures at end-of-life (“grave”), including incineration, landfilling and recycling. Therefore, rather than including end-of-life in the core study, this study tests three different potential end-of-life paths in a sensitivity analysis.
 
“The sensitivity analysis enables us to understand the environmental impacts associated with each potential end-of-life path and to quantify the environmental benefits from recycling, which was shown to be the most preferable end-of-life option for Nomacorc closures,” said Dr. Olav Aagaard, Nomacorc’s principal scientist.
 
Over the past several years Nomacorc has worked to build supplemental recycling programs for wine closures. Recycling programs are currently available in France and the Western United States, and the company plans to expand to other geographical regions in the coming years. “This study further substantiates our continued efforts to expand our regionalized retail recycling programs around the world, and it’s something that the entire industry should collaborate and improve upon,” said Dr. Aagaard.
 
The LCA study also provides recommendations for future sustainability improvements on Nomacorc’s product lines, including continuing to increase the use of renewable energy and minimizing ancillary packaging where possible.
 
Nomacorc is committed to continuing to measure, improve and communicate the company’s sustainability performance. In 2012, Nomacorc installed solar panels at its North Carolina facility and released its first annual Corporate Social Responsibility report, disclosing the company’s overall performance on economic, environmental and social sustainability measures for the year 2011. And earlier this year, Nomacorc announced the development of the world’s first zero carbon footprint wine closure, Select® Bio. Made with plant-based biopolymers derived from sugar cane, the Select Bio Series will be commercially available for the 2014 bottling season.
 
For more information about Nomacorc’s sustainability progress and objectives, or to view the executive summary of the LCA report, visit http://www.nomacorc.com/nomacorc-sustainability.php.
 
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