Milkmen Return To London As More Customers Demand Recyclable Glass Bottles

For many who grew up before prior 1980s, it was a familiar sight and sound: The delivery of milk each morning in glass bottles that made that familiar clinking sound as the milkman would bring them to the front porch and collect the empties.

And now, as the saying goes, Everything old is new again.

The Evening Standard reports that more and more customers — especially millennials — are shunning plastic containers and demanding milk in old-fashioned glass bottles:

“Dairies in the capital told of a ‘phenomenal’ upsurge in interest from younger customers at the start of the year amid growing public upset over plastic waste.

“Both UK-wide company milk&more and east London dairy Parker Dairies have seen increased demand for glass bottles in 2018, citing David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II as the ‘catalyst’ for the new uptake.

“The firms said younger consumers and families seem willing to pay more for the service in a bid to help the environment.”

Mark Woodman, who runs Woodman’s Dairy, says business is booming:

“This week and last week we’ve been inundated with phone calls asking us if we deliver glass bottles.

“We’ve had 50 to 100 people call in this week, with 30 to 40 new customers off the internet looking to cut down on their use of plastic.

“It’s great for us. Anything that gives us a bit of business back from the supermarkets is really good for us.”

A year ago, then-UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that all avoidable plastic had to be banned from the country by no later than 2042, and any one-use plastic items that don’t comply with Britain’s 25 year Environmental Place could face hefty taxes.

Back in 1975, 94 percent of milk was put into glass bottles, which can be reused up to 25 times before they have to be melted down and replaced with new glass containers. But the old bottles are eventually made into new ones, eliminating a major source of plastic waste in UK landfills.

Depot manager Paul Lough of Parker Dairies says he’s amazed by how readily many in the country are eagerly switching to glass, which means a huge increase in business:

“We have seen a massive increase in January. It’s gone bananas. And I do think it is largely because of people trying to get away from plastic. I think the idea of going back to glass bottles and milk floats have captured people’s imagination.”

Roseanne McEwan, brand development manager at Cotteswold Dairy, said the tables have turned, and now dairies are taking business back from supermarkets when it comes to dairy products:

“We have produced and bottled glass milk since my Grandfather started the business in 1938.

“11 per cent of our business is doorstep delivery but we also supply wholesale customer who deliver milk to the doorstep.

“When the supermarkets started selling milk, sales dropped.  However over the last couple of years, we have noticed more people interested in a doorstep delivery and even over the last week, we have picked up 50 new calls.

“With all the recent news on the use of plastic, people are wanting milk in glass bottles as one way to help cut down their plastic consumption.”

Whether its concern for the environment or a longing for those days of childhoods past, milk in glass bottles is clearly making a major comeback in Great Britain, and the move may inspire other countries to do the same.


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Andrew Bradford

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