Photo: Sea Change

By Samantha Lees

Here’s an unconventional wine pairing: an Italian Prosecco with stretches of clean beaches, a fruit-forward French Merlot with coastal pollution research, or a delicate Provence Rose with a reduced carbon footprint. Sea Change is making tackling the issue of marine plastic easier and tastier. We spoke to Will Bray, Director of Sea Change, about sourcing delicious-tasting wines that are also good for the environment.

“I think all businesses have a responsibility to do their bit in whatever way they can, small or large.”

With approximately 28 billion bottles of wine sold and consumed across the world every year, one can imagine all the resources required for packaging and transporting all those bottles across oceans and continents, culminating in a significant amount of waste and carbon footprint. But these issues don’t cross many diner’s minds when they’re deciding which red to go with their rib-eye.

Photo: Sea Change 

Sea Change’s mission is to raise awareness of the plastic problem associated with the wine industry and turn the tide on plastic pollution and its harmful effects on our wildlife and the environment. Born out of love for both wine and the planet, Sea Change was launched to give people the opportunity to choose a wine that helps protect the environment while being able to enjoy one of life’s greatest pleasures.

“It’s a very easy choice to make. Do you want to drink a wine that has a low plastic and carbon impact or a wine that does not?” 

Sea Change wines are different from typical wines in several ways:

Firstly, Sea Change wine’s corks are made from plant cellulose which is 100% biodegradable, unlike many corks nowadays which typically use glue or are made out of plastic to replicate the cork texture.

Secondly, the bottles they use have a relatively thinner glass. Some middle-to-high range wines tend to be bottled in thicker glass to convey a sense of higher quality. Reducing the thickness and hence the weight of the bottles has positive environmental impacts along the line: easier filling in the bottling plant, lighter loads for transportation and hence fewer emissions, and reducing the volume of glass to be processed at the end of a bottle’s life.

Photo: Sea Change 

Moreover, Sea Change wine doesn’t have the plastic wrap around the cork and uses renewable plant-based closures instead. The unnecessary plastic wrapping used on typical wine bottles is purely for aesthetic reasons; they are so small that people tend not to recycle them. “Now imagine you have 28 billion of these little plastic wraps, some of which is going into our water system.”

Finally, the paper for Sea Change wine’s labels are made from certified sustainable forests and are made partially from grape waste. 

For foodservice partners, on top of being able to serve carefully selected award-winning wines from vineyards in Italy and France, simply ordering Sea Change wine enables them to cut down their carbon footprint, while at the same time having less waste to deal with. It also allows them to be part of the effort to raise money for local marine conservation.

“Guests will realise ‘I’m raising money to protect the ocean and I’m having a good drink’”

In addition to the more eco-friendly packaging, they also donate 25 Euro cents to their charity partners for every bottle sold. “We launched this initiative with A Plastic Ocean, so we started by raising money for them. As we expand to sell outside of the UK, we try to find local organisations to support.” Sea Change supports Rendu Ocean in China and A Plastic Ocean Foundation in Hong Kong.

Photo: Sea Change

For foodservice partners, “it’s a very close step between serving Sea Change wine and knowing that money is being donated to an organisation in Hong Kong, and you can see what’s happening – the beach cleanups, educational activities, collaboration with corporations, etc.

“A lot of our existing partners who have Sea Change wines have said that guests respond extremely positively to it. Guests come in and see Sea Change wine on the menu and it says ‘make a positive step for the environment.’ People feel good for drinking a wine that also does something to protect the ocean.”

“We want to be part of the community, discussions, and initiatives to push forward the agenda of sustainability and climate action in Hong Kong.”

Having just landed in Hong Kong, Sea Change already has many activities planned with A Plastic Ocean HK such as beach cleanups, educational seminars, corporate collaborations to raise more money for ocean conservation charities.

Photo: Sea Change

They are eager to partner up with like-minded businesses that want to make their operations more sustainable and raise money for ocean conservation. “By joining Food Made Good, we can be part of the conversation which will give us and the other members of the community new ideas, and as a collective, we can do something.”

For more information, please visit their website.