Scottish dairy switches to glass milk bottles to save the planet

One 'Wee step for Scottish dairy... One giant leap for mankind'

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Wee Dairy has launched its milk in O-I glass bottles.
Wee Dairy has launched its milk in O-I glass bottles.
Owens-Illinois (O-I) has partnered with the Wee Isle Dairy, in Scotland, to launch its own-brand milk in recyclable glass bottles.

The dairy company produces unhomogenized whole milk from a 60-strong herd on the Isle of Gigha, which has a population of about 155 people.

'Tough challenge'

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Don Dennis, whose wife, Emma, and her brother own the farm, said they were determined not to use plastic and had doubts about the carbon footprint of glass from Chinese suppliers.

They met with O-I through their contact Williams Brothers Brewery in Alloa, based in the UK.

This was actually quite a tough challenge for us, to find an alternative to plastic bottles, if we wanted to sell our milk to the shops​,” he said.

We approached Tetra Pak, who make the waxed cardboard cartons, but their smallest machine costs £400,000 (but with easy payment terms...) and requires 500,000 liters per year​.

We then looked long and hard at the old model of glass bottles that come back to us to be cleaned and used again​.

The problem is we have no spare shed space at the farm, and the cleaning operation would have required a good sized shed. Nor could we afford to spend £50,000 plus to build a shed for that purpose.

There's another drawback: the cleansing of the old milk bottles requires both a lot of energy/electricity/hot water, but also very caustic chemicals. Our somewhat remote island location also adds to the logistical challenges to the returning of the bottles​.

Single-use glass bottle

In the end we decided upon the single-use glass bottle, of the sort used to sell fruit juices. Glass is always recyclable, and if worst comes to worse, and it ends up thrown away, the glass eventually reverts to sand​.”

Speaking about the disadvantages of plastic, Dennis added 70% of plastic bottles end up in landfill sites and waxed cartons are only an option if you are going to sell 500,000 liters a year, which is far more than the dairy plans to do.

We were delighted O-I could help as glass is better for the milk, will not end up in landfill and can be obtained and filled in relatively small volumes​,” he said.

O-I has initially supplied one lorry-load of bottles which will be filled and delivered to customers across Gigha and the rest of Kintyre.

Paul McLavin, marketing and new business development, O-I UK, said it has supplied 1 liter and 500ml clear glass bottles, made in France and normally used for fruit juices.

Glass packaging not only helps preserve the quality and taste of the milk getting the full, natural flavor to the consumer, but provides a more sensory and premium experience​,” he added.

The dairy also uses a labelling machine from Easy Labeler in the US for low volume distribution.

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