The "Recycle the Jug" campaign is designed to drive sustainable behavior change across the state by addressing misconceptions to ensure plastic milk jugs make it into the recycling stream.
A 2021 perceptions study conducted by a dairy industry coalition revealed while 70% of California consumers said recyclability is important to them, nearly half (47%) found the milk jug difficult to recycle and 32% of those consumers reported they didn't trust it will actually be recycled.
"California consumers are dedicated to doing their part to recycle but many don't understand that the HDPE used for plastic milk jugs is one of the most widely accepted plastics in recycling programs across the United States. It's highly desirable by recyclers because of its value and ability to be turned into new materials," said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB.
"We want to encourage consumers who buy milk in the jug to make sure that jug makes it to the recycling bin to help keep plastic out of landfills."
Working with the dairy, retail and recycling industries, the Recycle the Jug campaign encourages consumers to take three steps to recycle their plastic milk jugs – Pour it. Cap it. Bin it. A new Recylethejug.com site launched in collaboration with the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) provides information on milk jug and other recycling. And a new recycling icon with the website address will soon appear on milk jugs at retail stores across California as a reminder to consumers to recycle the jug in their local curbside recycling program.
"Dairy processors are constantly exploring ways to provide milk in the most convenient, sustainable packaging – using more recycled HDPE is one example. More recycled content means lower costs for packaging manufacturers and that's what this campaign encourages," said Yin Woon Rani, CEO of MilkPEP.
"The more consumers put their milk jugs into the recycling bin, the more responsibly made packaging we can make, and that's something consumers can feel good about."
"HDPE is a valuable resource for recyclers because it can go into a variety of materials, from plastic lumber to packaging for products like milk. Because natural HDPE doesn't have color added, recyclers can add any type of ink or color when reused," said Tim Dewey-Mattia, recycling & public education manager for Napa Recycling.
"Milk jugs are easy to recognize and sort at recycling centers, so consumers can have confidence that their milk jug will actually be recycled. And that reduces the use of virgin materials, saves energy and saves money for both consumers and recycling companies."
Additional partners include Albertsons, Alta Dena Dairy, Altium, Andronico's Community Markets, Cal-Waste Recovery Systems, Clover Sonoma, Crystal Creamery, Driftwood, Envision Plastics, Hollandia Dairy, Lucerne Dairy Farms, Napa Recycling, Pavilions, Producers Dairy, Resource Recovery Coalition of California, Safeway, The Association of Plastic Recyclers, and VONS.