The wine industry must do more to improve its environmental credentials before it is forced to by authorities, the head of UK-based Direct Wines has warned.

Wine retailers, suppliers and merchants must do more to push a "green agenda" in the industry, said Simon McMurtrie, CEO of Direct Wines, in a panel discussion at yesterday's Wine & Spirit Trade Association conference.

"Most customers think that we're pretty green. Well, we know the truth and the reality is that we're not," he said, citing the cost of glass recycling and transporting wine around the world as two major areas of concern for the industry.

"Whichever government gets in next, they're going to start legislating, or the EU is going to start legislating, around this. That scares me big time," he said.

Jeremy Beadles, CEO of the WSTA, disagreed with the suggestion that the wine industry has been slack on tackling environmental issues.

"I think the environment is one area that we're reasonably on top of," he said at the beginning of his conference speech.

He said the industry has made significant progress on producing lighter glass bottles and also increasing bulk wine shipments, in partnership with the Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP).

"This is a global agenda and we need to work with our colleagues in the US, Australia and around the world. The next step is getting a global momentum."