Recycling label for wine bottles rolls out to industry

As circular packaging solutions become a greater focus for the wine sector, Sonya Logan looks at a new label program aimed at encouraging consumers to recycling wine packaging, in what’s being seen as an Australasian first.

A recycling label designed especially for wine bottles that instructs consumers on how to recycle every part of the package, including the container, cap, cork and foil, is now available for rollout to the broader Australian wine industry.

The label was developed by Accolade Wines and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) which is charged with administering and managing the Australian Packaging Covenant, the regulatory framework aimed at reducing the environmental impact of packaging in Australia. As part of that objective, APCO developed the Australasian Recycling Label program (ARL) which provides consumers with on-pack instructions for the correct disposal method of all packaging components.

As a member of APCO, Accolade approached the organisation to develop the first ARL for the wine industry to inform consumers of the recyclability of every part of a wine bottle’s packaging with the goal of enhancing recycling practices. Replacing the existing single-image recycling label, the ARL was also designed to fit within the constraints of the small labels typically found on wine bottles alongside the mandatory messaging.

“As a business, Accolade decided we wanted to leverage the existing ARL program to more clearly communicate recycling messages to our consumers,” Sandy Mayo, Accolade’s chief marketing officer, told Grapegrower & Winemaker.


“The challenge we needed to overcome for wine labels generally was that space is very limited on the small labels, so we had a lot of consultation around labelling options and which ones delivered the message clearly to consumers.


“We landed on the combined-micro ARL. In essence this label combines two packaging elements such as ‘bottle & wire’ next to the one recycling symbol and is easy to read and simple to understand.”

Image: Examples of the combined-micro ARLs that can be applied to wine bottles, depending on the materials involved in the packaging.  

Announcing the combined-micro ARL in October last year, Accolade has since applied it to the majority of its new products including new vintage releases.

“This includes some of our leading brands such as Grant Burge Barossa Midnight Ink and Grant Burge Pinot Noir Chardonnay lighter alcohol,” Mayo says.

She adds “good progress” has been made in the first year of the rollout of the ARL to Accolade’s existing products too, with some examples including St Hallett Black Clay Shiraz, Yarra Burn Prosecco and Petaluma White label Chardonnay.

Benefitting industry

While APCO has worked with other brands on individual labelling solutions specific to their packaging, this is the first time a new solution has been co-created to roll out to all of industry. The pharmaceutical industry has also benefited from its development.


“After discussing the challenges for Accolade, it became apparent that this solution could be applicable beyond the wine industry to others such as the pharmaceutical industry, where regulatory requirements also limit labelling space,” reveals Chris Foley, APCO’s chief executive.


In March 2023, APCO released the ARL User Guide which outlines the requirements for applying the combined-micro ARL, signalling the solution is now available to all APCO members from the wine and pharmaceutical industries.

Wine companies interested in more information about the ARL must become an APCO member and ARL Program User.

“By joining APCO, they can gain valuable insights, guidelines and assistance in implementing the ARL on their packaging,” Foley explains. “APCO provides members with access to the ARL User Guide, which outlines the requirements for applying the combined-micro ARL. The ARL team is also available to ARL program members to support the assessment and artwork process.”

Foley says APCO is in discussions and has supported some artwork mock-ups but has so far not been notified of other wine companies applying the ARL, although stresses that this doesn’t necessarily mean others aren’t using it, just that APCO’s reporting periods have not yet detected them.

Sandy Mayo says Accolade’s co-development of the ARL is one of a number of sustainable packaging initiatives the company has undertaken. These include:

  • achieving 98% recyclable packaging across Australia and Europe
  • increasing recycled content and reducing bottle weights wherever possible
  • finding new and disruptive ways to package wines to reduce packaging waste
  • continuously looking to innovate its packaging to offer more sustainable options, including the launch of wine in cans, flat bottle, smaller packs, larger formats such as wine on tap, and ‘bagnums’
  • packaging and waste audits to apply sustainable packaging principles and target further packaging reduction and improve recycling rates
  • reducing currently hard-to-recycle material e.g. bladders, liners, pouches, pallet wraps and polystyrene
  • launching its eco-flat bottle on Banrock Station products sold in Europe and Australia.

“In the last two years alone, we have launched a variety of sustainable and innovative packaging solutions including wine in cans, wine on tap, bagnums, as well as a world-first circular, sustainable packaging solution for on-premise partners,” Mayo explains.

“We chose Banrock Station to launch the eco bottle in Australia because the environmental credentials fit perfectly with the brand’s 25-year sustainability heritage and its commitment to forging a more sustainable future for the planet.

“For this launch we partnered with Packamama on a 100% recycled PET from pre-existing material rather than single-use plastic. They are 87% lighter than the average glass bottle, and the flat design takes up 40% less space, enabling nearly twice as many (91%) to fit on one pallet, which reduces the carbon emissions across the supply chain.

“It’s not just the environmental credentials of this bottle that set it apart — the lighter, unbreakable recycled PET plastic bottle is much more convenient for picnics or popping in the esky on holiday,” she says.

For further information about the combined-micro ARL, visit APCO’s website