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Why France’s leading wine merchant has lost faith in bottle return schemes

By Vitisphere September 23, 2022
Why France’s leading wine merchant has lost faith in bottle return schemes
Christopher Hermelin claims “you cannot have two systems side by side - deposit and recycling - because one cannibalises the other, especially in urban areas when one is simpler than the other”. - crédit photo : Nicolas (archives 2018)
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s glass prices skyrocket and bottle supplies continue to dwindle, refillable bottle schemes have been a hot topic of conversation in the wine industry this year, with associations and start-ups both in a bid to relaunch the deposit return scheme. They have received support from organic grocery chain Biocoop. It was only a few decades ago that bottles with stars around the neck disappeared from store shelves in France. More recently, wine merchant chain Nicolas (Castel Frères group) tested the deposit return system in 46 Parisian stores in 2018 with an organic Côtes-du-Rhône villages Vaison-la-Romaine label (sold for €6.75).

The trial was far from successful, reports Nicolas’ marketing director, Christopher Hermelin, citing a very low return rate: “Some customers are very committed (the type that shop at Biocoop), but this is not the case with the majority of customers. Few of them go into town with a bottle that is still heavy (395 grams), for a few cents (20 cent deposit)”. Christopher Hermelin feels that the deposit return scheme is hamstrung by the need to reorganise “infrastructure that was phased out 40 years ago. The recycling industry is organised, but the logistics chain for recovering, cleaning and filling bottles has gone in France. The carbon footprint of the various types of transportation required also has to be demonstrated”.

 

 

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