Spain is an important wine making country in the EU (in terms of area cultivated, the quantity of wine produced, and the sector’s economical significance). In spite of significant efforts in the past, negative environmental impacts of the overall wine production process had remained notable and further work towards improved sustainability of the entire wine sector was considered necessary. Waste management systems for the wine sector had improved, but there was still a need to do more in the treatment and disposal of waste produced during the wine making process at all levels (farmers, wineries, waste managers, etc.). Interest in reuse and recycling of residues and other winery by-products into valuable goods was increasing during the project’s preparatory phases.
The project’s overall purpose focused on reducing negative environmental impacts from the wine sector, as well as integrating waste management and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools into the regional wine industry. These objectives would be achieved by:
- Encouraging the supply and demand of greener goods, promoting products with reduced environmental impacts and providing consumers with accurate and scientifically-based information;
- Promoting the recovery and recycling of winery wastes, and encouraging the rational and sustainable use of natural resources through the lifecycle approach;
- Identifying the best by-products that can be obtained from wine waste based on their added value and their technical feasibility by carrying out tests in a pilot plant;
- Identifying technologies and best available techniques (BAT) in the wine making sector, and propose solutions for overcoming barriers;
- Providing valuable scientific information to Castilla y León’s local government on the environmental impact of the wine sector, in order to establish action plans and future implementation programmes;
- Creating a certification scheme to help consumers make more environmentally friendly choices;
- Facilitating the application and monitoring of the environmental legislation within a local and regional framework; and
- Establishing a general framework for developing future legislation concerning the wine sector for Castilla y León.
The main expected results involved transferring knowledge about negative environmental impacts associated with the wine lifecycle to prevent waste generation and promote recycling and recovery. The project therefore would benefit all stakeholders within the wine production lifecycle.
The HAproWINE project made remarkable achievements in improving waste recovery from wine making processes and sustainable management of wine production. The project developed useful tools to help wineries improve their environmental performance. These involve Product Category Rules (PCR) that are included in an eco-labelling programme. Wineries’ knowledge was increased about areas where environmental improvements can be adopted. These can have positive economic implications from resource savings, and can be easily adopted by informed winery managers.
Savings were shown to be possible from:
- Reducing waste volumes that need to be treated. This represents a financial saving for the administration but also for wineries in terms of management costs and because of the potential industrial use of part of those residues;
- Increasing energy efficiency: in a scenario of increasing energy costs and difficulties for energy production, the project demonstrated how wineries and other business can save on one of the most important costs in their production and business processes;
- Minimising consumables (pesticides, fertilisers) used in the agricultural stage without adverse effects on yield or wine quality.
Hence, wineries that participated in the project improved their environmental performance and the project demonstrated solutions to help increase the regional wine sector’s resource efficiency (through better environmental performance at the production level and potential technological use of waste streams). Such solutions are transferable and so can be replicated elsewhere in Europe.
These strategic outcomes were achieved by the following project actions.
- A multidisciplinary Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) was set up to ensure the appropriateness and relevance of all project activities. This SAC was formed by wineries from different ‘Designations of Origin’ and ‘Geographical’ brands, R&D Institutes and Centres, Designation of Origin Regulatory Councils, engineering and consultancy companies, recyclers and supermarket chains. By the end of the project, the SAC had 26 permanent members who were involved in developing all of project’s documents and defining all of its best practices. This has assured consensus conclusions that can be accepted by all key stakeholders. In addition to this participation, many wineries have actively collaborated, providing the HAproWINE team with waste samples, data related to their product lifecycle, and information about different aspects of their businesses;
- A classification of Castilla y León’s wine sector was carried out, taking into account technological, economic, environmental, and social aspects. It was complemented by the identification, description, and assessment of Wine BATs. As a result, the document ‘Good Practices Guide and Best Environmental Techniques for Wine sector in Castilla y León’ was published and disseminated (in both EN and ES);
- Using real data from participant wineries, the environmental impacts of wine product systems were assessed using a LCA methodology. As a result, an Ecolabelling Programme, combining Type I and Type III eco-labels (Standard ISO 14025) was designed and tested, including the definition of thresholds for awarding the best products with a life cycle perspective (PCR). The PCR provides a LCA methodology that can calculate the impacts generated by a 0.75 litre bottle of wine, including the necessary containers and packaging, throughout its cycle. The approach developed by the project offers detailed product information, which can be used by both buyers and by the wineries themselves to improve their products. This eco-labelling scheme is innovative and has raised considerable interest in the international forums where it has been presented (e.g. 2012 LCA Food Conference and 2013 Life Cycle Management Conference). The PCR were also submitted to AENOR (Spanish standardisation body), which indicated interest in adopting these rules under its own eco-labelling system (e.g. GlobalEPD). The same PCR document has also been sent to the administrators of the EPD® International System programme. They agreed to take it into account when reviewing their rules for developing environmental product declarations for wine. These contacts will continue beyond the project end date;
- A strategic document for the wine sector in Castilla y León was produced, using the results of the different project activities. This document outlines the main concerns and recommendations of the wine sector that are considered necessary to ensure environmental sustainability. It was defined in consensus with all interested parties and relevant stakeholders through the SAC. The document identifies 45 measures in the areas of waste management, water and energy use, sustainable management of facilities and operations, the use of environmental technologies and the relation to oenology (wine making) or tourism activities. This Plan’s implementation could help place Castilla y León at the forefront of sustainable vineyards and wine producers;
- Options for high added value compounds from different wine industry waste streams were explored. This work prioritised compounds that were more viable from an environmental, economic, social and technical point of view. As this was an innovative action in the project, other applications already available in the market were discarded (though identified: cosmetics, salts). Two potential added value processes were defined. Firstly, the bioconversion of sugars to biopolymers, and secondly, the reinforcement of polymers with cellulose fibres extracted from woody wastes, like stalks. Bioconversion resulted in very low yields and was discarded. However, use of lignocellulosic by-products to reinforce composite materials was seen as a feasible market solution for winery wastes. It was demonstrated that this process increases mechanical properties of plastic materials. Moreover, cellulose fibres are porous materials with low density that reduce weight in plastic composites, and this can be relevant for different applications such as transport, leisure industry, or construction. Such porosity also reduces heat conductivity, which can be useful in the manufacturing of thermal insulating panels for construction. These project results were presented to a major manufacturer of automotive components located in Castilla y León. The results were considered satisfactory, but stability of supply and cost were identified as barriers to their immediate application.
Overall, the suitability of the project’s approach was confirmed by the aforementioned good results and by the satisfaction of wineries that followed the process. Hence, the project has been a very useful learning experience for all project partners, as well as private sector stakeholders.
Project results made positive contributions to the following legislation:
-IPPC Directive 2008/1/EC (waste minimisation);
-Council Regulation (EEC) No 880/92 on a Community eco-label award scheme; and
-Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2013) 196 final): Building the Single Market for Green Products.
As a result of this work, a varied and comprehensive set of information and practical experience has been produced,which may be used by wineries and the regional government of Castilla y León to design and implement specific action plans for reducing the life-cycle environmental footprint of the sector and its products. This can help to make the sector more competitive and enhance the reputation of European wines by gaining sustainability leadership in the market. This could also position them at the forefront of any future certification scheme.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).