T.U in collaboration with Earth
Our Environmental Policy
2021 seems like the perfect year for some of fresh thinking. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for a while now, but we see it as an opportunity to take stock, refresh our thinking and push for better ways to be. Contained in this volume you find how we came to be, where we are now, and where we plan to go. So, thank you very much for joining us for at least a little portion of our journey.
We at The Uncommon are acutely aware that our future successes will be due, in part, to climate change that has already occurred and that will continue to do so. That is why sustainability has been cultivated at our core.
We are also aware that, if we’re honest, nobody really needs us. We’re a luxury, a bit of fun, a fizzy sip at the end of a long day or a bubbling sup at the start of a good night. But we love what we do and what we do adds a little something extra to people’s day. So, we’ll be doing it in the best way we possibly can and push others in our industry to progress.
Every decision we make with our winemaking has the climate in mind; from our local production and conservation, to our fully recyclable cans, to our carbon-positive canning process.
We acknowledge that there is still a long way to go for us and our industry. Though our wines may be playful, we have no intention of playing with the planet.
MADE FOR THE UNCOMMON GOOD
We believe we are the most sustainable wine available in the UK.
But we still have a very long way to go.
We are not the kind of people to claim ‘carbon neutrality / deficit’ by buying corporate carbon credits or planting trees in Peru. We control every stage of production here in the UK from grape growing to winemaking and packaging, so we have the opportunity to make the change and raise awareness in the process. As a local winemaker, we aim to start by improving things locally.
As outsiders it was easy to see the waste in the industry. We are not institutionalised by its patterns, norms or traditions and we can see the wastefulness everywhere we look
- Land is farmed intensively and sprayed with nasty chemicals to kill disease, not prevent it
- There are PDOs (governing bodies of protected origins) that restrict production volumes so healthy grapes are left on the vine
- Grapes are pressed lightly, and only free run juice is processed
- There is temperature-controlled storage
- Heavy and fragile bottles wrapped in single use materials are shipped all over the world
So, we started our winemaking using the most sustainable methods we could find. We were never married to the bottle, so we went a better way.
Since our birth, we’ve continued to tweak our processes, winemaking and delivery – a continuing evolution after the revolution of the can.
With 3 years under our belt, it’s time to lay out exactly what the first 10 will hold.
Our 10-year pledge
Due diligence and choosing the most ethical suppliers
- Light, endlessly recyclable cans
- Locally grown and made - all within 50 miles of London
- Recycle at all times
- Investigate, learn and discover better method
Years 4-6 [We are here]
Incremental improvement to reduce impact on the planet
- No single use materials
- Carbon positive canning process that gives energy back to the grid
- Work with farmers and the Bee Friendly Trust to understand and improve soil and vineyard health
- Promote biodiversity and use of cover crops throughout vineyards
- 2% of revenue to the Bee Friendly Trust
- Continue to move to more sustainable partners throughout supply chain
Move beyond the neutral and become a positive force
- Become a carbon positive producer
- 5% of revenue to conservation, rewilding and reforestation in the UK
- Employees to receive training in ecological awareness
- Reduce and reuse winery waste
- Reduce water use in the winery
- Reduce reliance on herbicides and move to produce organic wines
- Work with schools and communities to start internships and programmes to learn about sustainable local winemaking
OUR FRESH INITIATIVES FOR 2021
- Partner with BFT, Network Rail and Amalgam Modelmaking to create 'Running out of Time' sculpture in London Bridge Station to raise awareness around the plight of UK pollinators
- Build wildflower planters at train stations around Southeast London
- Install new beehives to increase biodiversity in our vineyards
- 2% of our revenues will go to support the Bee Friendly Trust
- Team members all to compete 2 community days
IN UNCOMMON DETAIL
More info for the inquisitive
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into our current processes, this is it! Here is everything you could wish to know about our winemaking, our cans, our conservation and our office.
As some wiser than us have said, ‘Reduce, reuse and reimagine!’
All stages of our grape growing and winemaking are done within a 50-mile radius of our home in Southeast London.
We are certified members of Sustainable Wine of Great Britain. They hold us directly accountable to rigorous levels of sustainable grape growing and wine making practices, by ensuring we:
- Maintain soil health
- Manage yields optimally
- Minimise pesticide inputs
- Promote biodiversity
- Reduce our carbon footprint per hectare
- Practice recycling in all that we do
These standards extend to our winemaking too where we ensure we always:
- Reduce energy and water usage per can of wine
- Reduce the impact of our packaging
- Reduce the carbon footprint of each bottle of wine
- Ensure all winery waste and wastewater is reduced and recycled
OUR CANS & PACKAGING
We take our packaging as seriously as our wine and are proud to be the first winemakers to can wine in the UK. By doing so, we have made the following promises:
- We use no single use plastics at all
- All our aluminium cans are endlessly recyclable
- Our cans are extra light to ensure minimal emissions during transportation
- They are harder to break, reducing waste in transport
- They are single serve, reducing wine waste on consumption
- All cardboard must be recycled
- Any overseas orders are shipped via boat rather than plane
- Our canning facility is almost entirely powered by renewable energy, generated by four on-site wind turbines, solar panels and world changing heat pump technology using water from disused mines
OUR FUZZY FRIENDS, THE BEES
Our vines don’t technically need pollinators, as they self-fertilise, but we need our vineyards teeming with life to improve soil health and reduce the need for pesticides. Healthy soils – healthy vines – better wines!
- We are formally committed to give 2% of our revenue every year to the Bee Friendly Trust to support their mission to create habitats for honeybees and all pollinators to thrive
- We also encourage our team to take volunteer days to help build planters to support the bee population and encourage biodiversity in the local area
‘THE UNCOMMON ROOM’
In the office, we have a few ground rules that we are all committed to living by:
- Without fail, recycle or reuse everything possible (paper, glass, plastic etc.) and provide a safe way to dispose of hazardous waste (batteries, electrical equipment, etc.)
- Use cleaning products with a lower environmental impact
- Encourage our team to walk or cycle to work, by offering the Cycle to Work scheme and bike storage
- We are working with our landlord to switch the office to a renewable energy provider to reduce our carbon emissions
- We have a Virtual Office Policy that guides employees how to minimise their environmental impact while working from home
Our final commitment is to continue to learn, adapt and progress, and to keep making incremental changes wherever we can. To do this we will always make sure we:
- Take environmental considerations into account when designing our products and selecting our suppliers
- Always try to use raw materials with a lower environmental impact
- Use resources wisely and do our best to minimise excess materials in production
- Design and produce our products so that they last as long as possible
- Try and minimise our use of plastic when transporting our products
- Offer customers the opportunity to offset the emissions of their purchase with us
- Use our platform to educate and encourage customers to protect wildlife and endangered species
- Ensure all our employees understand the environmental impacts of their own jobs and their own environmental role within the company
- Communicate constantly with our manufacturers and make sure they are reviewing the environmental impact of their processes
- Periodically review the environmental impact of the business, and the effectiveness of this policy, with the board, our team and all other company stakeholders
So, there you have it. A fresh way of thinking in the most exciting new sparkling wine region in the world. It’s not rocket science, just simple, sensible steps to make wine better that will also lead to making better wine. We hope it’s all making a lot of uncommon sense.
We look forward to you joining us on our journey. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!