Blog: Dean BestMilk in bags - will UK accept this recycled notion?

Dean Best | 27 June 2007

The notion of buying milk in bags has reached the UK – but similar experiences overseas seem to cast questions on whether the idea will take off here.

Shoppers to upmarket UK grocer Waitrose can buy a reusable milk jug alongside Calon Wen organic milk, which will be sold in so-called “eco paks”. Consumers can make the one-off purchase of buying the jug, which is topped up from the eco-paks.

Waitrose and Calon Wen, the Welsh farmers co-operative, hope the concept can help in the battle to cut household waste in the UK. The eco paks are said to use some 75% less plastic packaging than the equivalent polybottle. And despite high-profile public campaigns on recycling, around only a quarter of plastic bottles are recycled in the UK

It’s a laudable aim – but will it succeed? Shoppers in Canada have long been used to buying their milk in eco-friendly packs, which now account for a majority of the fresh milk sold in the country. However, in Australia and New Zealand, similar initiatives have failed to catch the imagination of consumers.

Will price remain a key factor for UK consumers? The milk sold in the “eco paks” is more expensive than organic milk on sale in Waitrose. No matter how “green” consumers are said to be becoming, cost could remain an obstacle to embracing this concept.

And, what’s more, only when retail giants like Tesco embrace similar initiatives will a dent be made in the growing mountain of plastic bottle littering the UK.


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