Our commitment to the environment is embodied in the closing lines of the The Digby Toast and replicated on every bottle we sell: To Green and Pleasant, To England
We have scrutinised, and continue to scrutinise, the grape to glass environmental consequences of every bottle of Digby sold and are proud to say that from 2020 every bottle sold is Net Zero from a carbon emissions perspective.
Today, the Life Cycle Assessed (LCA), ie grape-to-glass, carbon footprint of a bottle of Digby is somewhere between 1.5kg and 2kg depending on where in the world it is consumed. Through our involvement with a local tree planting project we are now offsetting the remaining CO2 emissions for every bottle of Digby that we sell from 2020 onwards. That’s not all – we are doing lots more besides to ensure the sustainability of our product…
About 1kg of grapes goes into a bottle of Digby. During the growing season, the vines removes CO2 from the environment through photosynthesis: some is locked into the wood of the plant, some is in the grapes which is then partially released when they ferment. But net, that 1kg of grapes has removed 300g of CO2. Grape growing in the UK requires relatively little addition of fertilisers and so is much greener than many farming methods.
We choose our vineyard partners carefully to ensure that they play their part towards our sustainability.
Our contract winery sits on the Wiston Estate, which in turn generates 50kW of power from solar panels. As such, the energy required to run the presses at harvest, the cooling and warming of the tanks through the wine-making processes and the machinery to disgorge and label our wine is largely from a renewable source.
The remains of the crushed grapes each harvest are recycled as they provide food to pigs, and waste water from the winery drains into special tanks so as not to negatively impact the local environment’a water tables.
Unlike many wines from around the globe, our wines are also vegan as no animal derived products are used in the winemaking process, so there is no burden on the landscape for fish or animal products.
The biggest single contributor to carbon emissions in the production of a bottle of Digby (or any sparkling wine for that matter) is the manufacture of the glass bottles and then their subsequent transportation (both empty and full).
We have never used the super heavy bottles traditionally used in Champagne, rather we use 835g Ecova 75cl glass bottles from Veralia (a St Gobain company) which are 15% lighter and generate 15% less CO2 to manufacture compared to traditional Champagne bottles (still used by many of the big names though thankfully reducing year by year).
Their manufacturing process can take in up to 100% recycled glass – so one bottle can literally last a lifetime if correctly recycled. In 1990 Verallia committed to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030, thus far they have reduced by 28%.
Lighter bottles not only means less material and energy to produce but also lowers the CO2 footprint to transport (see below).
Traditionally the foils over the neck of a bottle of sparkling wine comprise a sandwich of two laters of metal foil, glued together with a middle plastic layer. These are then printed with oil-based ink before forming into the capsules for application to the bottle.
We use ABSOLUTE GREEN LINE foils from Sparflex as they offer a much greener solution than traditional foils. Look out for the leaf on our bottles. The advantages are as follows.
We use 100% natural cork closures as this allows very gentle breathing of the wine through the final stage of the ageing process. Cork farming is generally considered to be sustainable, in fact each sparkling wine cork has bound up inside it 562g of CO2 which the tree has removed from the atmosphere. According to Portugal’s largest producer of cork, Amorin, accounting for the CO2 produced in production, each cork is still net negative, to the tune of at least -400g, which effectively negates the CO2 footprint of the glass bottle.
We use traditional wire hoods with no additional plastic coatings
Our transit boxes for trade are made from recycled paper and are relatively light with a recycled pulp insert. From our tasting room we recycle all cardboard and re-use the pulp inserts.
For consumer shipping we use a much tougher box as they have to withstand the harsh environment of our courier networks otherwise we suffer too many breakages which is wasteful (as well as a poor customer experience). These are made from recycled cardboard and are themselves 100% recyclable.
Our individual gift boxes, which we make available with our vintage wines, are 100% recyclable and we offer our direct customers, both online and at our tasting room, the ability to decide to what extent they would like gift boxes with their order so as to reduce waste. Increasingly we are finding consumers either declining gift boxes or moderating their request on a large order (eg they will take a case of wine and ask for just 1 bottle to be gift boxed)
One of the largest contributions to the CO2 footprint of a bottle of wine is transportation. Haulage by land or air by far more impactful on the environment than transport by sea and so anything we can do to minimise road transport and air transport is beneficial because whilst we can and do minimise the weight of the bottle, we can’t change the weight of the wine (“Ye cannae change the laws of physics, Captain!”)
Because our wines are produced in the UK, for our domestic market the CO2 impact of moving them from winery to the drinking glass is considerably lower than that of wines that are imported.
For drinkers of Digby around the world: Our wines to other continents are always sent by sea on containers and so the conversation is really about how it gets overland from port to drinker via the distribution networks.
We are committed to ever improving our environmental credentials at each point in the grape to glass chain.