OÉ for Good – National Deposit-Return Scheme for wine
Oé is the committed french wine brand. We do right by doing good. We are always looking for new ways to go further in our commitments towards the environment and our biodiversity. We shall always find new ways to be better.
We are a brand of organic, vegan and pesticide free wines that works hand in hand with french winemakers around the country to produce the best possible wine for both our taste buds and our ecosystem.
Oé is B Corp certified since 2017, it follows high societal and environmental norms and is part of a process of progress. As a company, our mission is to promote a sustainable viticulture and a considerate way to consume. Also, we pledge 1% of our turnover to the Oé Initiative for Biodiversity in the vineyards.
The program helps Oé winemakers to go beyond organic farming with the goal of having a regenerative viticulture.
SDG’S (Sustainable Development Goal):
Reusing bottles was always something that Oé’s co-founders Thomas and Fx wanted to implement, even before it was possible for the company to even think about creating such a scheme.
Sure, it is “easy” to recycle glass bottles. But recycling has a great impact on the environment. To melt the glass and make it into a new bottle, you need enormous ovens at 1400°C, on 24/7, all year round. That was something to change. Good thing we knew how. As reusing packaging was done much before recycling it.
Long before us, other brands and companies have been reusing their wine bottles, but not on such a large scale. Many people thought it was impossible as it necessitated a lot of standardization, a lot of negotiation, and especially a lot of finding partners to pick-up and wash the bottles. However, as we learned that reusing bottles could save up to 33% of water, 76% of energy and create 79% less greenhouse gas than a non reused bottle, we just decided it was impossible for us not to try, at the very least.
The goal of this project is to make reusable wine bottles the norm. First, a french one, and with time an international one. “Reuse” or “deposit & refund” schemes have no greater utility if we are the only ones doing it. We ought to speak to as many stakeholders as possible, open the conversation in as many groups as possible and create a habit in every consumer’s mind to deposit their containers to refill or reuse.
Now for the history.
The first step was to figure out which bottle could be cleaned. If it was too light, it would break, if it was too heavy, it would be too expensive to move around. It was decided in partnership with the french reuse organization that wine reusable bottles would be 550g.
Then we tackled the issue of the label. It had to be washable, and that created other issues. We decided on a label made out of recycled paper with small micro-perforation and glued with hydrosoluble glue. On some of our bottles, we also made little cut outs in the shape of the Oé bird to make the washing process even easier.
We also decided to get rid of bottle caps (the metal part covering the bottle neck) as it was no longer a legal obligation in France. It is not necessary to the reusing scheme, but it definitely helps the process as there is no need to take it off.
Now we had reusable bottles, but no partners to pick them up for reuse. Finding partners might be the most important part, even before the bottle itself. They are crucial to the system as without them, none of it works. It was a lot of work and took quite a bit of time but we, none the less, managed to find about 15 partners across the country after a year.
Finally, the last step was to create an incentive for customers to return their bottles instead of recycling them. We are still working on that every single day.
We are proud to say that the reuse system is fully operational. The benefits are starting to arise. Especially in this context where raw materials have never been so expensive, and bottles are almost impossible to find (in Europe at least). If, before, people would always argue that reusable bottles were not worth it on a financial level, they might be thinking about it twice now.
It wouldn’t have been possible without the many players that took part in creating the reuse bottle scheme.
Also, no matter what, you have to start. Even to start small and make mistakes. Starting is the most important step in the process and shouldn’t be pushed back because “we are not quite ready”.
- To have more drop-off/pick-up partners that wish to participate in the scheme so that everyone in the country has the possibility to return their bottle close to home.
- To communicate more on the reuse system, to help people understand why it is so important and how they have a role to play in it.
- To have more wine companies take the step because the more the merrier (also because it will only make more sense as we are many to do it)
Potential For Replication:
Yes, many ! Anyone who sells bottles can implement this kind of scheme. You just have to start small and grow from there.
Sources Of Information/Support:
Our own experience & the french “Réseau consigne”
Phone : 04 74 26 92 16
Mail : email@example.com