It is McWilliam's Wines commitment to promote healthier consumption patterns of wine by all consumers, to enhance the social responsibility of the wine sector and to take every measure possible to ensure wine is always enjoyed in moderation. It's this same commitment we apply to caring for our environment and community.
McWilliam's Wines is committed to minimising any detrimental effects to the environment through its activities, and where feasible, contributing to environment improvement. To this end, McWilliam's Wines is committed to ensuring compliance with all relevant environmental legislation and codes of practice and has established as a corporate objective the achievement of continuous improvement in environmental practice.
In 2008, McWilliam's Wines environmental initiatives were recognised when its Hilltops vineyard in New South Wales was awarded the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Award Award for development of environmentally sensitive viticultural practices.
McWilliam’s Wines Group is a signatory member of the Australian Packaging Covenant and as a responsible corporate citizen is totally committed to our environment and recognizes the implications of its activities and products on the environment.
McWilliam's Wines received a GREEN rating in Greenpeace's inaugural 2009 Australia Pacific Guide to Alcoholic Drinks. The guide rates food and beverage companies according to their policies and actions to exclude ingredients derived from genetically engineered (GE) products.
Over the last five years, McWilliam's Wines has invested resources into educating its growers and vineyard partners about environmentally responsible practices. This program has resulted in better soil management and analysis and more efficient water use, some examples are written below.
A highlight of McWilliam's Wines environmental initiatives is the planting and cultivation of selected grasses between rows in the vineyards. This practice has seen a good reduction in soil erosion and increase in water retention. Mulching and the planting of vegetation within and around vineyard properties have also resulted in soil enrichment and restoration and erosion minimisation.
Composts are used at the McWilliam's Hanwood Estate site to reduce the need for synthetic aids and to increase organic matter under the vines. We have also introducted high water use efficiency Drip irrigation combined with soil moisture monitoring. Water saving is not large if the flood system is well set up. However the labour saving is enormous and large vineyards like our new one would not be feasible on the same scale if it were flood irrigated. Logistics and staffing requirements would be unsustainable. Conservative water saving nonetheless is in the region of 20-25%. Also we now use electricity to deliver all our water (drip is a pressurised delivery system) whereas before flood was by free gravity and less efficient. Environmentally, drip is much better from the point of water saturation and drainage because water is totally controllable; when, where, quantity and frequency which avoids any excess waste.
Inter-row management of slash and drop allows for the accumulation of debris above the ground and stimulation of the root mass below the surface to actively increase soil nutrition levels and also carbon sequestration.Use of mulches to increase soil health, water holding capacity and reduce water use from evaporation is encouraged. Prior to the use of mulch, the marc was always used for distilling to retrieve any spirit for fortified wine products, but now we are trialling it for use in the vineyard, instead of it becoming a waste product. Historically stalks were always spread fresh in the winery vineyards from the destemming bin, but volume now is too great to handle and trials to compost/mix it with recycled marc are underway on a larger scale at Hanwood.
This program of soil enrichment and erosion minimisation was recognised when the McWilliam's Wines Hilltops vineyard in New South Wales was awarded the Harden Murrumburrah Landcare Award for development of environmentally sensitive viticultural practices.
Over the past two years we have started to use a sustainable approach to trellising by use of alternative to CCA (copper, chrome, arsenic) posts, which have an ongoing OH&S issues, but also better use of recycled resources not previously available. A combination – trialling: Wood with Polymer coating (plastic coating) made by WoodShield (www.woodshield.com.au) and is 100% recycled, certified organic and can last for over 50 years, the timber is plantation pine and totally untreated. Plastic composite post and steel posts. (Note that the plastics in post construction are all made from recycled sources, and that we have always had 50% steel in all rows).
McWilliam's Wines worked closely with the Australian Government's CSIRO organisation to develop Tyrian, a grape varietal especially bred to suit the warmer Australian climate and requiring 10 percent less water than other mainstream varietals. McWilliam's Wines planted a small test block of the varietal in 1995 and today has more than 50 hectares in full production at Hanwood and Mount Pleasant vineyard.
McWilliam's Wines has also converted its vineyard supplementary water system to a drip system, which ensures supplied water is well targeted to the vine and maximises water usage.
All supplementary water, via drip, is monitored via capacitance probes to ensure no excess water is passed beyond the root zone to potentially enter the water table. This ensures higher water use efficiencies and minimises any rise in the water table.
At Mount Pleasant winery the winery uses only rainwater (ie no mains water). So effectively we take from the sky and return to the sky. In times of high rainfall we “harvest” water into unused wine tanks, and in times of high production (vintage) or low rainfall we can rely on this stored water for get us through. All waste water used in production is settled and sent to evaporation ponds. Grey water is treated on sight and the resulting water is reused to water grass fields.
McWilliam's Wines is an active participant in the New South Wales Government's Sustainability Advantage Program. This initiative brings likeminded businesses together to develop a sustainability roadmap, including goals and plans to deliver them.
McWilliam's Wines is a participant in a benchmarking program being developed by South Australian company, Provisor. The new program, will allow participants to input data relating to their water and energy usage, benchmark themselves against similarly sized wineries and identify areas for improvement.
McWilliam’s Wines is a member and signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant and as a responsible corporate citizen is totally committed to our environment and recognizes the implications of its activities and products on the environment. Our objective is to produce and package our products in a safe and cost effective way linking environmental issues in line with concepts of sustainability and product stewardship. Our business approach is to ensure that:
• At all levels of management we strive to integrate our environmental objectives with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Continuous improvement strategies.
• Minimise waste in all shape and form
• Create a more efficient and safer working environment
• Monitor our environmental performance
• Comply with all relevant environmental legislation, regulations and codes of practice.
• Keep employees and contractors informed of environmental responsibilities.
Continuing its dedication to quality, McWilliam's Wines is transitioning to retail-ready packaging as well as eliminating dividers from many of its shippers to reduce waste. It is also trialling new packaging initiatives to further reduce weight and waste.
McWilliam's Wines has also converted a significant portion of its 187ml bottles from glass to the lighter-weight, recyclable PET packaging. Integrated within McWilliam's Wines New Product Development quality program criteria include assessment of recyclability of packaging materials, use of recycled content in packaging materials and opportunities to reduce weight.
Action Plan for 2010 to 2015
STATEMENT OF COVERAGE
This document outlines actions that may be taken to modify company operations to optimise environmental performance with respect to packaging materials at the Chullora bottling operations, packaging for purchased materials at our wineries and improving resource efficiency. Timeframes for completion and/or implementation of these nominated actions have similarly been documented.
This document and the actions herewith will be reviewed by McWilliams Wines Group Ltd on an annual basis as part of their overall Company Action Plan. This review will allow documented actions to be critically evaluated and their performance measured ensuring that on site manufacturing/packaging strategy of continual improvement is adhered to. The aim to achieve accreditation to ISO 14001 for Environment Management Systems is seen as an important tool for improving our total environmental performance.
Organisations sign the Covenant to signal their commitment to reduce the environmental impacts of consumer packaging by:
• designing packaging that is more resource efficient and more recyclable
• increasing the recovery and recycling of used packaging from households and away-from-home sources and
• taking action to reduce the incidence and impacts of litter.
Currently over 800 organisations (business and industry, government and non-government) are signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant.
McWilliam's Wines has embraced and encouraged a number of impactful recycling initiatives:
- Shippers used in the supply of packaging components are passed on to another supplier for reuse in second hand cartons
- Shrink wrap plastic off bottle pallets is baled and recycled
- Broken glass is segregated into colours and managed via recycling streams
All waste water is carefully treated and recycled where possible.