Dairy firms across the UK have seen a surge in demand for milk in glass bottles since the start of 2018.
Seventeen out of 20 dairy businesses contacted by BBC News have seen a rise in sales of glass milk bottles to homes and businesses amid concern over plastic waste.
Some have seen existing customers making a switch from plastic to glass.
Others have been contacted by new customers wanting to take delivery of glass bottles.
The boost is reaching firms up and down the country:
- Thomsons in Lanarkshire has seen a 7% increase in demand for glass since January
Acorn in County Durham and Brecon Milk in South Wales have had a 10% rise in demand
- Pensworth distributes milk across the South of England and Wales from nine depots. The 7% rise in glass sales since January has meant they’re investing in a new production line
- Creamline in Manchester have signed up more than 1,000 new customers, with most of that growth coming from online orders
- In Carmarthen, Nigel Dragone of Nigel’s Dairy has doubled glass bottle deliveries from about 4,000 to almost 9,000 a week. “We feel like we’ve won the lottery,” he said.
The largest deliverer is Muller-owned Milk & More. Two-thirds of the bottles they send out on their floats are glass and this is a big growth area for the business.
“Since the start of the year, Milk & More has had an additional 15,000 new online customers, of which 90% are ordering milk in glass bottles,” the firm says.
Two other big names in the industry – Arla and Dairy Crest – do not deliver nor offer glass-bottled products. The other smaller wholesale dairies contacted said they did not sell glass and had no plans to, but one was offering pouches to cut waste.
Waste charity Wrap said the environmental benefit is difficult to decipher. “For glass to be the better environmental option from a carbon perspective, our research shows that any bottle needs to be reused at least 20 times,” a spokesperson explained.
“Less than that and the lifecycle carbon footprint would be greater than for plastic. In practice, glass bottles survive being reused around 18 times.”
Industry body DairyUK said it could not be certain of the return of the milkman and a glass-bottled pint, even though this anecdotal uplift was good news.
Their annual figures for home delivery lump glass and plastic together and as their data is updated in July, they added it was too early to say.
Milk deliveries have been in steady decline since the 1980s and doorstep accounts for just 3% of the market.
The UK’s five big supermarkets say they have no plans to start stocking milk in glass bottles.
Source: BBC News