As UK dairy processors continue to push ahead with developments in reusable packaging schemes like bagged milk, further work is required within the supply chain for wider long-term success, claims one processor.
Dairy Crest, one of the UK’s leading suppliers, says that retailers such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s have agreed wider roll outs of its milk bag and reusable jug (JUGIT) scheme to 200 stores across the country.
However, the company claims that although the design has invigorated consumer interest in using plastic bags to distribute milk, ongoing developments for more environmentally friendly supply of the packs was still needed.
Dairy Crest’s Richard Pryor told DairyReporter.com that sufficient investment was still needed therefore to create a supply chain that can meet demand for the packs on a nationwide basis, while keeping costs and energy use low.
“This will include designing the optimal customer solution to ensure efficient stock handling, replenishment and merchandising, [of JUGIT],” he stated. “Designing secondary packaging that satisfies these customers’ store requirements, whilst maximising distribution efficiency [is also required] as well as designing new high speed end of line automated packing to bring everything together.”
Pryor added that meeting these challenges were vital in potential wider rollouts of its bag scheme amidst competition from other packaging innovations.
The jug system, which allows consumers to purchase a two-pint plastic bag that can be kept in a re-usable plastic jug, was designed to cut down on packaging waste relating to milk consumption as one of a number of green moves the wider dairy industry claims to be undertaking.
According to RPC Containers Market Rasen, which manufactured and designed the plastic jug system with Dairy Crest, strong sale interest in the product and recyclable milk bags has led to the wider national rollout for the product.
The scheme was initially rolled out at 35 supermarkets last April under the claim that it can cut milk-packaging waste by 75 per cent compared to existing packaging schemes being used, according to its developers.
Following the launch, some industry associations suggested that the JUGIT bagged milk development was an extension of similar initiatives undertaken by milk producers and processors to reduce packaging waste during distribution.
Association Dairy UK pointed to schemes like those undertaken by certain dairies in recent years to attempt to cut down on tens of thousands of tonnes of tertiary cardboard and plastic packaging by delivering milk to the majority of its clients through steel roll containers.
The group says it also operates a scheme to assist dairies to manage and potentially recover these containers to ensure a closed loop system of distribution.
Milk Link, one of Dairy Crest’s national rivals, has also launched initiatives in attempts to increase recyclable material use in its cheese packaging as well as reducing the weight of materials used to store its products.