DE BORTOLI WINES ACHIEVES FIRST PLATINUM SUSTAINABILITY RECOGNITION IN NSW
Last night, NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton presented De Bortoli Wines with the state’s first Sustainability Advantage Platinum Project at a ceremony in Sydney.
Awarded for outstanding environmental leadership and innovation, De Bortoli Wines is the only business in NSW to have reached this level in the Office of Environment and Heritage’s (OEH) flagship Sustainability Advantage program, which encourages and enables sustainable business best practice.
This acknowledgement recognises ‘The De Bortoli Method’, a unique potassium recovery system that turns the winery’s wastewater into an environmentally friendly cleaning agent that has the potential for commercial application for any business using caustic chemicals.
Alice Cahill, Manager Strategic Delivery, Sustainability Programs Branch, OEH says: "We are proud to have partnered with De Bortoli Wines over the last decade and to have supported their journey to improved sustainability.
“With this innovative Platinum Project, which is truly circular by design, De Bortoli Wines is rightly acknowledged as a world leader for its demonstrated commitment to sustainable production and consumption. We applaud De Bortoli Wines pursuit of zero waste and zero harm and their willingness to share their knowledge with the NSW business community."
Lindsay Gullifer, De Bortoli Wines Health Safety and Environment Manager, who received the certificate on behalf of the De Bortoli family, said: “Potassium recovery is of value because it creates a closed loop system to reduce consumption of harmful chemicals in cleaning our tanks and machinery. Working with a dedicated team to achieve recognition at this level has made me very proud. We’re really making progress to leave a positive legacy for the next generation."
The culmination of five years of research and development, the De Bortoli Method is the latest in a long list of energy efficiency and wise water management initiatives the family-owned business has undertaken as they strive to become a ‘Zero Waste Winery’.
Core to this has been the drive to address sodium salinity and water availability, which are key environmental risks for any business operating in the Murray Darling Basin.
Ten years ago, Managing Director Darren De Bortoli made the decision to go ‘No added sodium’ to reduce soil salinity. This decision transformed the family-owned business’ industrial ecology and set in motion a whole-of-business ‘improvement cycle’, where everything from viticulture to bottling, is considered through a sustainability lens, reflecting the family’s motto ‘Semper ad Majora’, or ‘always striving for better’.
A switch to potassium-based cleaning agents, enabled the company to re-use and value-add its wastewater to grow fodder crops, as it now contained potash, a common agricultural fertiliser. The sale of these crops offsets the costs of wastewater management at the winery.
The De Bortoli Method takes this process a step further. By recovering potassium from winery wash water to produce a sodium-free cleaning solution (potassium hydroxide) for re-use at the winery, the system aims to reduce the build-up of potassium in the wastewater farm’s soil. In addition to improving wastewater recycling, by reducing the usage of imported caustics, this technology has the potential to deliver significant savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Looking to the future, De Bortoli Wines is now working to have 30% of their Riverina vineyards organic in five years.