13th January, 2012 by Rupert Millar
4. Champagne will continue to “go green” but along sustainable rather than organic or biodynamic lines
Beavis believes that all too often, “people don’t realise what the region has done to enhance its green credentials”.
The Champagne industry has identified four main issues in its mission to “go green”: pollution control; the preservation of terroir and enhancement of biodiversity; accountable management of water, by-products and waste; and confronting energy and climate challenges.
The present results of Champagne’s initiatives over the past decade show a 35% drop in the use of pesticides, with 50% of those used being certified organic; the spreading of “urban compost” has been banned; 92% of viticultural liquid effluent is now treated; 75% of industrial waste from Champagne production is now processed and an assessment of the region’s carbon footprint is underway with a 25% reduction in carbon emissions slated for 2020, which the CIVC believes is “perfectly feasible”.
Felix Bocquet, director of sustainability at Veuve Clicquot, describes the practices at the house: “We recycle as much as we can in terms of glass, cartons and plastics during production. Water is a precious resource, and we use specific equipment wherever possible to minimise wastage. We have a water recycling system fitted to our bottle washers, and all water used in the winery is collected and reused in irrigation. In the last seven years we have been able to reduce our water consumption by 53.6%.”
The CIVC believes that it is well placed to meet the stated 50% reduction in the use of pesticides by 2018 under the Grenelle de l’Environnement action plan. However, the targets for a 6% increase in organic plantings by 2013 and a 20% increase by 2020 “seems less realistic” although “we do obviously see considerable margin for improvement”, said a report from the Champagne Bureau.
The past decade has seen €40m (£33.5m) spent on de-pollution facilities and by the end of 2012 the region hopes that 100% of its waste by-products will be processed.
The CIVC report also highlights other areas where the region’s producers could add to the overall increase in Champagne’s green credentials, including: eco-design or refurbishment of buildings; using new energy-saving viticultural and winemaking processes; and packaging reduction. Tesco recently announced it was cutting the bottle weight of its own-brand de Vallois Champagne by 7.2%, from 900g to 830g.