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Good Goods brings reuse to wine bottles, with $1 credits for returns

Glass is entirely recyclable without loss of quality. But while recycling rates are as high as 95% in some countries (go Sweden!), the global average is estimated to be below 35%. And the recycling process can be energy-intensive, too. As Good Goods points out, "Glass is sturdy, dependable and long-lasting. So why do we only use bottles once?" Providing an alternative, the New York-based startup has built a reusable bottle system for wine.

Participating winemakers use standardized bottles and add a Good Goods logo and QR code to their labels. After launching last year, return rates weren't as high as expected until Good Goods introduced rewards in December 2021. By way of those QR codes on labels, an app registers every bottle a customer returns and gives them a USD 1 credit towards their next purchase.

Good Goods currently operates in New York and hopes to expand to California, Texas and Washington by the end of 2022.

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Wine producers (and peanut butter grinders and pasta sauce makers) are dealing with a global shortage of glass bottles and jars. Though the supply chain disruption is pandemic-related and won't last forever, it's also an opportunity to rethink packaging and find sustainable alternatives to single-use containers.

When it comes to a heavy material like glass, transportation is a significant contributor of carbon emissions, which means any reuse system will need to limit the number of miles each bottle travels. Refilling won't be a sustainable option everywhere; it requires proximity to winemakers or to distributors who import bulk wine from other regions and bottle it locally.

Those caveats aside, a well-thought-out refillable bottle system will appeal to wine drinking consumers looking to lower their carbon footprint.