Re-use or Recycle?

During my thirty-three years in the construction industry, I had the amazing opportunity to help build two wineries in the Niagara region. I met some super talented people in their respective fields during that time. One experience I had will help answer the question we get from customers on several occasions. First, let me relate this experience.

While working on the first winery, the winemaker asked me if I wanted to come to the wine bar and sample a new chardonnay they had been working on. Of course, I obliged. He proceeded to uncork the bottle and pour just a little in each glass. I was ready to sample. He then took each glass, swished the wine around in it and then poured it down the sink!

In disbelief, I asked, “Why would you do that?”

His simple reply, “Soap residue. It will affect the taste of the wine.”

At this point, I thought, ‘How can that be?’ We had installed a top of the line, seven-thousand-dollar commercial dishwasher (Early 2000’s prices).

That experience taught me a lesson that we at The Olive Oil Co. use at our store.

Many people have walked into our store asking if we can refill their bottles. The short answer to that is: No.

It has been noted by our valued customers that many stores like ours do offer to refill old bottles with new product and offer a discount for bringing in their “clean washed bottles.” I would like to explain why The Olive Oil Co. has not offered this service.

First of all, our customers recognize, and we agree, that our product is a quality product. Nothing should detract from your delicious purchase, especially contamination of any kind. Many websites have suggested cleaning the bottles by putting them upside down in the dishwasher. It would seem highly unlikely that any residential dishwasher could properly clean a bottle with a small ¾ inch opening. Our concern is that just a small amount of old product residue or soap film could ruin the new product being filled, or worse, cause sickness.

When we opened our store, we were required to put in a three compartmental sink. At our own expense, we also added a commercial soap and sanitizer dispenser. This equipment provides a proper method of washing, rinsing and sanitizing our stainless-steel tanks before they are refilled with olive oil or balsamic. When we wash our tanks here at the store, they are washed twice, rinsed, immersed in a multi-quat sanitizer, then air dried. If we did not follow this practice, the Ontario Health Unit would not be happy.

Therefore, we encourage our customers to dispose of their empty bottles with other recyclable items in their local recycling program. The Olive Oil Co. could save money by offering a customer refill program, but as we have stated, we do not want to take the chance of refilling a bottle that may not have been properly cleaned and sanitized or have the quality of our product compromised in any way.

If you have any questions about our cleaning method or products, please e-mail us at, call us at 519-304-6600 or stop in our store.



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