Each month, I get a shipment of the “Gold Series Wine Club”. It is the least-expensive (and most popular) wine club offering from Gold Medal Wine Club (see our review here). In previous posts, I've shared my unboxing photos and my perspective on some of these deliveries. (The idea here is to show you what a typical month's delivery is like.)
This month, I noticed something wildly different in the packaging: NO MORE STYROFOAM.
Yep, Gold Medal Wine Club has gone green, with paper-based packaging.
Although I reduce, reuse and recycle whenever I can — I don't really consider myself a big “green movement guy”. I know I should do more than what I do (like bringing my own bags to the grocery store – I've never done it). But each month when I'd get a shipment of wine from Gold Medal Wine Club, I always felt dirty whenever I'd throw away the styrofoam inserts that they used to protect the bottles from damage during delivery.
Plus, there's the sound the styrofoam makes! Ugh. Taking the styrofoam out of the box was always like fingernails on the chalkboard. And when those styrofoam pieces rubbed together? Forget about it. (I did enjoy tormenting my son with that sound though. It *really* bothers him. Like when you get a to-go container from a restaurant. I love to rub the styrofoam containers together a bit just to watch him squirm and cover his ears. #FatherOfTheYear.)
So goodbye styrofoam!
…and hello cardboard.
Gold Medal joins many of our other favorite wine clubs with their choice of protecting their wine bottles with a cardboard insert. So, like our friends at Plonk Wine Club, CA Wine Club, and The Wine of The Month Club, Gold Medal also uses eco-friendly packaging. And now, I won't feel bad discarding the boxes because the entire thing is recyclable!
In preparation for this post, I was looking in my cellar for an old shipment from Gold Medal that hadn't yet been opened or consumed, so I could show you the old packaging vs. the new packaging. However, I have none left. They're all in my belly.
I asked my friend Bradley Mansfield, of Gold Medal Wine Club about his new packaging. I remarked that it was a great change and had wondered about his decision to make this change. He shared this with me:
“Actually I have been wanting to change this for years. Our fulfillment process uses a stand up box verses a lay down. The industry standard is lay down, stand up pulp was not even on the radar.
“Jose, our warehouse manager (who has been working with GMWC for 22+ years) is the man, he organizes every step of the individual packaging process from start to finish. Think of it, making the box, adding the foam, putting GMWC labels on the bottles, collating the marketing materials, inserting the wines, added the newsletter packets, sealing the boxes, adding the shipping labels, palletizing the boxes, coordinating the outgoing shipments.
“He has handled over 2,500,000 packages for us from start to finish.
“The reason I am going on about Jose is he took on the challenge to designed the 2 pack pulp stand up packaging from start to finish. It took us about two years to finalize the design before tooling.”
It took them two years to design their custom packaging? Wow. Obviously, this was no simple task.
One difference between styrofoam and cardboard I had pondered was the insulation factor. This actually came to mind for me, because a few weekends ago I went camping during some very hot days and I knew I'd have no way to keep my wine at a reasonable temperature. (And I had no intention of putting my cabernet in a cooler!) So, I used a couple boxes from recent Gold Medal Wine Club shipments. I figured the insulating properties of the styrofoam would keep the extreme heat away from the wine — and it worked great.
So, when it comes to shipping wine from California all the way to my home in Michigan, particularly during the super-hot days of summer, or the freezing cold days of winter, I wondered if styrofoam provided any benefit over cardboard.
To that question, Bradley simply answered, “It depends on who you talk to. Unbiased research makes them pretty much equal when it comes to temperature control.” He then referenced this article in WineBusiness.com for me to understand further.
Below, take a look at the pictures I've taken from some recent shipments I've received from Plonk Wine Club, CA Wine Club and The Wine of The Month Club and see how they compare to the new packaging from Gold Medal Wine Club. Notice how everyone else uses a “sandwich” type packaging? In the sandwich style, the formed cardboard would be considered the bread and the wine is the meat. This is known as “lay down” packaging, and Bradley mentioned that this is considered industry standard.
As I'm no wine packaging expert, I asked Bradley if he could help us understand the differences between packaging styles. He says, “The two pieces of cardboard you are referring to is actually molded pulp from recycled newspaper and cardboard. They cook it, make it a mush, fill a mold to form the shape, let it dry and it’s ready to go. The top and bottom are identical in design.
“A majority of the fulfillment house use the lay down packaging for the 2 packs (two bottles inside of the shipment a three bottle insert is also available) If you think of it like I love Lucy episode of her boxing candy off of a conveyor system . Most fulfillment houses start with the empty box and add the items as it rolls down the conveyor belt from start to finish.”
However, Gold Medal chose to go a little differently in their packaging choice. They always have used a “stand up” packaging vs. a lay down packaging. (Their boxes open from the top, not the side.) So, they're still going with their “stand up” packaging. However, they're using cardboard to protect the bottles now, instead of styrofoam.
And to continue their stand up packaging, their design has a rather interesting result. The unique thing about their cardboard is that it's formed to wrap around the bottles, in two pieces: One bottom wrap and one top wrap. It's harder to describe than the “sandwich” type, so I'll let the photos do the work.
I asked Bradley about his choice to use a more custom design in his cardboard selection than his fellow wine club providers, and he said, “We found the stand-up boxing works better for our fulfillment system and numbers Jose is handling daily.” (They send a lot of wine!)
“Jose’s design has two individual pieces to make the insert – a top and a bottom – they are individually designed to hold the top and the bottom of the bottle.”
So, with all of this background information noted, take a look at the new eco-friendly packaging from Gold Medal Wine Club! (Go to Gold Medal Wine Club Here.)
Notice how their bottles are “stand up”?
Below, are some packaging examples from our other favorite wine clubs. You'll notice that all of these examples use the “lay down” style of packaging.
Here is the eco-friendly packaging from Plonk Wine Club. (Go to Plonk Wine Club Here.)
And here is the eco-friendly packaging from The Wine of The Month Club.
(Go to The Wine of The Month Club now.)
And last but not least, here is the eco-friendly packaging from the CA Wine Club.
(Go to the CA Wine Club now.)