Italian wine producer Masi Agricola joined RafCycle to reduce its carbon footprint

Apertura_portaleAs part of our deeply-rooted approach to sustainability, separate collections carried out at retailers, vineyards and production facilities play a key role in reducing our waste and raw material consumption”, says Bruno Boscaini, Managing Director of Italian wine producer Masi Agricola. “We were pleasantly surprised to learn that the release liner for the labels we use in our production could be transformed from a waste product into a resource. This is why we chose to sign with UPM Raflatac, becoming one of the first Italian winemakers to join the RafCycle® concept”.
The innovative RafCycle programme represents a further step for Masi Agricola towards the production and marketing of wine that’s increasingly more sustainable. A key point for the start of the collaboration was UPM Raflatac’s ability to transform Masi Agricola’s release liner waste, which previously went to landfill, into a valuable secondary raw material which is recycled into new paper.
According to Stefano Pistoni, Enduse Manager, Wine and Spirits, Beverage EMEA, “With the RafCycle concept, UPM Raflatac set itself the ambitious goal of finding sustainable solutions for waste recovery along the whole lifecycle of self-adhesive labels, all the way to the end-user or brand owner. RafCycle reduces waste volumes going to landfill from the processes of manufacturing, printing, distributing and applying self-adhesive labels to products. At the same time, in the case of paper release liner, an excellent quality of wood fibre is recovered and reused”.
In Italy, RafCycle is offered to label end-users through L.C.I. (Lavorazione Carta Riciclata Italiana), a leading company in paper recovery.

The natural choice for a leading Italian classic

Masi Agricola S.p.A. is a leader in the production of Amarone, a classic Italian wine distinguished by partially drying the grapes to concentrate their juice before pressing. The company has its roots in Valpolicella, one of Italy’s best wine regions, where back in 1772 the Boscaini family bought the small Vaio dei Masi valley, from which the winery takes its name.
Cristina Valenza, External Relations Manager for Masi Agricola, explains: “The wine industry is certainly a mature industry, at least in terms of the techniques and technology used. I wouldn’t envisage a drastic change that would revolutionize viticulture or winemaking processes. We need to take small steps, working from season to season to improve all stages in the production process, for example adopting more sustainable practices in our vineyards, reducing production costs and waste, and choosing packaging materials that can be recycled as well as reduced in different applications. RafCycle presented a natural choice for us”.
Engineer Bruno Boscaini, Managing Director of Masi Agricola adds: “In the same spirit, for some product lines the glass bottles have been redesigned and, depending on their shape, now weigh 20% to 30% less than the previous design. This has generated a reduction in our consumption of glass of over 660 tonnes a year and, in the collection and recycling stage, represents a saving in terms of greenhouse gas emissions of more than 400 tonnes a year”.
He says the traditional cardboard used for distribution has also been reviewed, and a new honeycomb design has led to a saving of more than 25 tonnes a year of corrugated cardboard. Masi Agricola has also applied for FSC-certification for its cardboard. “At the same time, we’ve also asked all of our label suppliers to supply FSC-certified labels, including those in the UPM Raflatac wine range”.

LCA shows a 26% reduction in PSA carbon footprint for Masi Agricola

UPM Raflatac has developed advanced lifecycle assessment (LCA) capabilities, with label lifecycle studies performed in accordance with ISO 14040/44 standards. These LCAs help understand the performance of different label choices in terms of carbon, water, energy and the end-of-life impacts of liner recycling, helping companies make the right decisions in terms of reducing the environmental impact of their products.
Materials recovery is one of the key factors for a strategy of good sustainability, and the RafCycle concept is a great example of this”, explains Robert Taylor, Environmental Director at UPM Raflatac. “By analysing the environmental aspects of label use – starting from the forest and going all the way to disposal by landfill or recycling – our LCAs identified that sending spent release liner to UPM Raflatac adds further savings to the already excellent results obtained by Masi Agricola”.
In a comparative lifecycle study of liner recycling versus landfill disposal, UPM Raflatac conducted an LCA using a scenario of 12.5 million bottles a year and different combinations of labels and release liners.
Most importantly, our lifecycle assessments make the benefits quantifiable and therefore highly meaningful in terms of decision-making. Our LCA calculations on the scenario for Masi Agricola show that release liner recycling reduces the environmental impact of their labels by 1% for energy consumption, 3% for water consumption, and, very significantly, 26% for greenhouse gas emissions”.
UPM Raflatac has also recently developed Label Life, a label footprint tool that communicates the environmental impact of label products. The tool describes the environmental performance of labelstock products in terms of carbon, water, energy and the end of life impacts of liner recycling. It provides the information that label printers and end-users need to make environmentally better choices and help achieve their sustainability targets.

Innovative solutions

Consumers are currently still attracted by the brand, and it’s this kind of ‘label’ that still counts more than the message it carries”, observes Raffaele Boscaini, Technical Group Coordinator at Masi Agricola. “But recent market surveys have shown us that environmental issues are becoming the fourth or fifth consideration when choosing which wine to buy”.
This is certainly true in northern European countries and North America, where consumers have been asking for organic wine for some time. Masi Agricola exports more than 90% of its production to more than 85 countries. In some of these countries, labels on newly designed bottles contain a reference to the reduction in glass made and the environmental benefits obtained.
We’re not saying this trend will increase in the coming years. That’s why Masi Agricola continuously seeks innovative solutions that, in addition to generating a low environmental impact, can be fused with the best winemaking traditions of the Triveneto region and the philosophy that has inspired us for generations; innovative solutions like the RafCycle concept”.

(in a box) A 20% liquid and 80% emotion product
Beyond the numeric facts provided by LCAs, Raffaele Boscaini speaks of the emotive value of sustainable initiatives like RafCycle. He predicts: “There’ll be two types of consumer in the future: those who drink wine just to drink something moderately alcoholic, and those who are looking for tradition, flavour, culture and emotion in a wine. The latter is the focus for Masi Agricola, a company that considers its product to be 20% liquid and 80% emotion”.

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