The UK’s largest home milk delivery service, Milk & More, is aiming to use 500,000 fewer bottles a year by adjusting its systems so each can be reused 15% more, as glass prices soar.
The milk float operator is working with its supplier to source more durable bottles and has adjusted its machines to reduce contact between bottles and the side of filling lines to reduce damage.
It is also installing scanners that can identify end-of-life bottles – when tiny cracks in the surface make them cloudy – so these can be removed individually rather than replacing bottles en masse after a set period of time. .
Patrick Müller, the chief executive, said Milk & More, which sells more than a million liters of dairy and alternative milks a week, was also urging customers to return more bottles to ensure they could be reused.
The changes come as the cost of glass bottles has more than doubled in recent years, with availability limited amid growing global demand from manufacturers driven by consumers’ desire to avoid plastic and a return to normalcy. trading as pandemic restrictions lifted.
While the UK glass industry has said there is no bottle shortage in Britain, European manufacturers are struggling to keep pace with demand, having cut production in the past when many beverage manufacturers have switched to lighter and cheaper plastic.
The rise in glass prices comes on top of a 72% rise in the price of milk, while renewable electricity, used to power 40% of the group’s fleet, or 500 vehicles, has tripled in price.
Müller said customer numbers were holding steady at around 350,000, although that was down from the peak of the coronavirus pandemic when numbers hit more than 400,000 as households sought door-to-door deliveries for the purpose. avoid crowded stores.
While some shoppers have returned to supermarkets, Müller said new customers were being drawn by a desire for more sustainable ways to shop, including using less plastic.
Milk & More now sells liquid laundry detergent, shampoo and other household essentials in refillable glass bottles as well as dry foods such as cereal, sugar and pasta in refillable bins, which are dropped off and picked up on the doorstep.