Dairy UK published its first ever Sustainability Report this week, ahead of the Copenhagen climate talks next month.
The trade association gave an update on progress towards Milk Roadmap targets, confirming that the UK is on track to meet the 2010 goal of incorporating 10 per cent recycled material into milk bottles. The report said the figure should be reached by the end of next year.
Currently one in every four milk bottles meets the target of including 10 per cent recycled material, saving 3,000 tonnes of virgin plastic. By the middle of next year, that saving will equate to 12,000 tonnes.
Dairy Crest, which has already confirmed that it will hit the 2010 target, was picked out for a brief case study on packaging. Its bottles containing recycled material are now being used at its Chadwell Heath dairy near Dagenham and will be used by the end of the year at its facility at Severnside near Stroud.
“Up to 13,000 tonnes of virgin plastic could be saved each year by using recycled plastic in new milk bottles,” said Richard Pryor, innovation controller, Dairy Crest.
Currently total packaging material used in the UK dairy industry adds up to 116, 564 tonnes, of which 54, 460 is plastic, 139 is recycled plastic, and 3,230 is other recycled material.
The average across the industry for incorporating recycled material in packaging is 3 per cent but some sites have gone as high as 54 per cent. This disparity “demonstrates the potential for improvement,” according to the report.
Using recycled materials is not the only way that dairy companies can improve their green credentials. Reducing the sheer amount of packaging material used from the current figure of 116, 564 tonnes is also an effective way to reduce the environmental impact of packaging.
By redesigning its packaging, Muller says that it now supplies 396 tonnes less packaging to market. Speaking in the Dairy UK report, Maryann Denfhy, head of CSR, PR and Nutrition, Muller, said: “Our success with lightweighting shows what you can achieve without affecting the consumer appeal of your products.”