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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Champagne Telmont Raises a Glass to World’s Lightest Champagne Bottle

The bottle, 35 grams lighter than the commercial standard, could represent a significant decrease in the carbon footprint of Champagne bottling.

35 grams may not sound like much at first take; but scaled up across an industry that uses a mammoth amount of glass, and you’ve got significant potential for change.

Champagne Telmont and French glassmaker Verallia recently announced the success of their most recent experiment of using an 800-gram Champagne bottle — an improvement on a bottle launched in 2010 — and they’re excited about the implicit reduction in emissions created throughout the production, storage and transportation of the glass.

“We decided to challenge the 835 number; and today we have the first results, and they’re very positive,” Telmont president Ludovic du Plessis told Sustainable Brands®.

While neither du Plessis or Verallia detailed the exact methodology of the initial 3,000-bottle experiment, the bottles were tested to meet the internal pressurization required of a Champagne (more than twice the pressure of an inflated car tire), along with the ability to keep that pressure intact through storage and movement.

“All the mandatory elements linked to the Champagne process and our industrial process have been taken into consideration in order to guarantee the bottle’s resistance and use (for example, pressure, bottle stacking, disgorging) within the whole lifecycle of the process,” a Verallia rep told SB.

Telmont sent a batch of bottles via cargo ship to Singapore as part of the testing and all arrived without any damage. Du Plessis adds that the key is being able to use automation throughout all parts of the process, as human touch can create additional pain points for potential damage.

“For us to take the 30,000-bottle risk with this means we are super confident,” he says.

Glass's huge footprint

Glass production is extremely energy-intensive, consuming more than 200 trillion BTUs annually to form molten material that can then be shaped into, in this case, Champagne bottles. Many producers have their own specific glass design, which further raises the emissions output. (In contrast, regular wine bottles use less glass, as they don’t have the same needs as a Champagne bottle.)

For Telmont, specifically, the company reports that glass represents about 24 percent of its total carbon output; and this new bottle would reduce that by about 4 percent.

Telmont sticks to a “classic” design that’s readily available, made from 87 percent recycled glass (Telmont and Verallia are working to get that number up to 90 percent). He adds that should other Champagne houses want to use the new, lighter glass, he’s more than ready to share it with them.

However, the largest Champagne houses produce upwards of 30 million bottles annually, dwarfing this trial run of 30,000. There’s also the issue of evolving an industry rich in centuries-old tradition and strict standards. Convincing these Maisons to change their ways will not be an overnight process — it will take time and proof points from Telmont’s initiative, which is set to be released in 2026 following a three-year bottle-aging of its certified organic Réserve de la Terre.

There is hope, though — as the larger Champagne consortium was one of the earliest wine regions to take action on climate change, with an initial plan dating back to 2003. Among its most pertinent achievements, Comité Champagne is treating and reusing 100 percent of the water used to make the product and some novel thinking around reintegration of Champagne-creation byproducts.

The next phase of larger goals

In January, Telmont released its own sustainability guide, which details not only a number of initiatives the company has committed to or is working on, but tries to put a focus on some of the broader climate-related issues in the Champagne business.

Beyond commitments to climate- and net-positivity, the guide clearly defines where Telmont observes its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions originating from — with glass, of course, being a large contributor of Scope 3. Du Plessis says that Telmont is also transitioning to green glass from traditional clear glass (including the new bottle); and this change could reduce Telmont’s Scope 3 emissions by 19.3 percent by 2030.

He adds that Telmont is also trialing a glass return program in the Champagne region — asking customers to return used, empty bottles for cleaning and reuse as sparkling wine or cider bottles (Champagne regulations do not allow used bottles to be refilled with new juice).

Telmont is also on a mission to transition to organic winemaking, with a goal to reach 100 percent organic certification by 2025 for its own estate, and by 2031 on its partners’ vineyards.