A SECOND LIFE FOR EMPTY WINE BOTTLES
Consider how many empty wine bottles are discarded every day in this country. Even with recycling efforts, it’s undoubtedly a staggering number. But a California business man has come up with such a brilliant recycling idea, it’s a wonder no one thought of it before. With the backing of several well-known Napa County names, a new American Canyon-based company is preparing to wash and sell re-used wine bottles on an industrial scale. Using a new-style bottle washer the size of a semi-truck, Wine Bottle Renew began washing the first of 2OO,OOO cases of discarded wine bottles at its Stockton plant in August. Bruce Stephens, the CEO of the $3.5 million startup venture said: “Our motto is that we’re going to be cleaner than new.” Stephens, a businessman and a home winemaker based in Sonoma, came up with the idea about two years ago after coming across bottles for his homebrew that weren’t clean. While Europeans reuse wine bottles, the concept has never taken root in the US for technical and other reasons. Perhaps because we’re terrible at recycling? The company decided to base its offices in American Canyon because of its proximity to the wine industry. “You want all the publicity that comes with Napa,” Stephens said. Washed bottles will sell for up to 4O percent less than new. The goal is to boost production to 2.5 million cases in five years. Company equipment can sort 1OO styles of bottles. The company’s 4O-plus investors include Napa Recycling and Waste Services, BLT Enterprises, Biagi Trucking, VinLux, Luna Vineyards, Jackson Family Wines, and Trinchero Family Estates. Reusing whole discarded bottles is more environmentally friendly than using new bottles or melting recycled glass cullets – pieces of broken glass, Stephens said, adding that reusing discarded wine bottles saves 95 percent of a bottle’s carbon footprint. Now that’s green.