Shop owner Paul Ellis said the idea is very popular. The 24 pint milk tank provides milk into glass or recycled bottles, instead of asking customers to buy milk in plastic containers each week. It’s usually emptied 2 to 3 times each day.
Residents are turned onto the idea and using it. The city council says is a “great example” of waste reduction. Anglesey became the first county in the UK to get “plastic free” community status from the conservation group Surfers Against Sewage.
The shop also accepts plastics for recycling. They’ve taken toothbrushes and candy wrappers. As more people find out about the milk, the shop has been increasingly busy and is fielding calls from around Europe and North America.
Local environmentalists are praising the shop’s initiative. Kirsty Luff, of Friends of the Earth Cymru, commented, “It’s wonderful to see this milk refill scheme in Anglesey proving so popular with shoppers. The scourge of single-use plastics is all around us, so having more refill stations in shops of all sorts is exactly the direction we need to be heading.Now supermarkets must follow the lead of the growing number of zero-waste and independent shops by providing opportunities for shoppers to refill their containers during their grocery shop.”
Locavore, a Scottish grocery store, is offering a similar milk vending machine. Locavore has an express goal of zero waste, saying, “We’re in the pursuit of reducing packaging rather than recycling it,” according to a member of the Zero Waste team there. The company can get the milk directly from farmers, cutting out the middle man.
Grocery stores in the United States still lag in introducing a refillable scheme like this. One zero waste market, In.gredients in Austin, Texas, hoped that it’s “bring your own container” model would change consumer habits. But the company found it hard to change people habits and the store wasn’t profitable enough to stay open. A few small scale operations exist around the country, none have taken on the full grocery model, most seem to be bath and body product focused.
For larger consumer goods, organizations like Loop are starting to offer items in reusable packaging. They sell items like laundry detergent and soap. But there is more plastic being manufactured each day, and the ocean continues to fill with plastic.
Further still, these refillable milk containers should offer non-dairy beverages for refill. Dairy alternative “milks” are better for you and the planet. Introducing non-dairy beverages into schemes like this would reduce plastic, and help reduce carbon emissions.
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