Sunday, July 21, 2024

Small change to Woolworths milk set to make big impact

Shoppers in select Woolworths stores will soon spot new clear lids on Woolworths own brand milk, as it makes the switch from coloured lids to make recycling easier.

In a first for a supermarket-brand milk in Australia, the new clear lids have already started popping up in selected Victorian, NSW and Queensland Woolworths stores this week for an initial trial and are then expected to roll out across all stores by early next year.

The change will mean the lids, which are currently dark blue or light blue, can be recycled into a greater variety of new products – unlike coloured plastic which has fewer uses when recycled. “It means up to 290,000kg of plastic from millions of milk bottles will now be more effectively recycled each year,” according to Woolworths.

“Coloured plastic currently needs to be separated from clear plastic during recycling. While coloured plastic can presently be recycled, the coloured pigment makes it less versatile as it can only be recycled into dark coloured plastic. Clear plastic leads to better quality recycling and allows the lids to be turned back into clear or coloured plastic, which means it could potentially be used to make a new milk bottle.”

To boost recycling, customers can follow these three important steps at home:

  1. Crush your milk bottle by stepping on it (with shoes on)
  2. Screw the lid on the milk bottle to ensure it doesn’t get discarded during recycling. Loose lids are too small for most plastic recycling equipment.
  3. Place your milk bottle in your yellow recycling bin at home – this is the one for “rigid plastic” recycling.

These instructions are included on a handy label on the bottle.

Woolworths Dairy Merchandise Manager Will Herron says: “We’re pleased to be the first Australian supermarket to start the switch for our own brand milk to help our customers’ good recycling habits go further.

“Our customers are pretty cluey – so we expect them to spot the change, but it’s important they know why their milk bottle looks a little different.

“This small change will lead to better recycling for millions of milk bottles once it rolls out across our range,” Mr Herron said.

“We also want to take this opportunity to remind our customers to reattach their milk lids when the bottle goes into the recycling bin to ensure it gets properly recycled into a new product.”

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Chris Foley says: “Small changes like this stack up to help recycled material go into a greater variety of new products, and we hope to see more companies follow this move.

“Customers should always look for the Australasian Recycling Label logo on their Woolworths brand milk and other supermarket products for easy-to-follow instructions to ensure their packaging ends up in the right place.”

Milk bottles won’t be the last Woolworths product to get a clear cap makeover to increase the quality of recovered plastic, with transparent lids soon to feature on Woolworths own brand cream and bottled water. The change has already taken place across Woolworths’ yoghurt pouches.

“This change is just one in a series Woolworths is making behind the scenes which may be imperceptible to customers, but stacks up to make grocery shopping more sustainable.”

These initiatives include:

  • Lighter packaging: Woolworths’ Australian spring water 600ml bottle has recently been redesigned to be almost 10% lighter – saving more than 270 tonnes of plastic annually.
  • Made from recycled materials: The same Woolworths water bottles are already made from 100% recycled plastic. Woolworths is increasing its use of recycled plastic in own brand packaging, channelling around 9000 tonnes of recycled plastic per annum into its products to reduce the creation of new plastic. These products include meat trays and bakery trays, which are now made out of more than 80% recycled plastic.
  • Easier to recycle: 85% of Woolworths’ own brand packaging can now be recycled conveniently at home.

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