Nomacorc is on the brink of launching new wine closures that are partially made from plant-based polymers.
The synthetic cork giant has spent the past two years honing the closure. It will be officially unveiled at the Intervitis expo in April and is currently pegged for a full commercial launch towards the end of 2013.
It will be a hybrid of plant-based polymers and oil-based plastic, tapping into a concept already being explored by several food and drink manufacturers, such as Coca-Cola Co and its Plantbottle.
These are early stages but, if successful, the launch could spark a new generation of closures that might one day cut Nomacorc‘s reliance on oil-based plastics altogether.
‘This is a pivot point for us,’ Nomacorc’s global marketing director, Jeff Slater, told Decanter.com. ‘It has the potential to be a game changer, but it would be hype to call it that at this stage. A year from now, we’ll know a tremendous amount more than we do today.’
Nomacorc’s new closure will benefit from the company’s existing oxygen management technology, offering winemakers a variety of oxygen transfer rates, and will sit within the firm’s Select Series range.
It will be initially targeted at organic and biodynamic winemakers, and those keen to enhance their sustainability credentials more generally.
Raw ingredients such as sugar and corn are used to produce plant-based polymers. However, Nomacorc is wary of current global concerns around food crops being used for biofuels and non-food purposes, and has said it is only taking supplies from specially certified sources.
‘There is supply available, and it was important for us to make sure that this wasn’t in any way threatening food supply,’ Slater said.
While there is no firm timeline or definitive strategy for ending Nomacorc’s reliance on oil-based plastics, Maurizio Ugliano, oenological research manager at Nomacorc, said that ‘it would be silly not to work in this direction’.
Written by Chris Mercer