London, United Kingdom — U.K. supermarket chain Waitrose is switching its milk packaging from plastic bags back to plastic bottles because of low sales. In a completely opposite move, competitor Sainsbury's is launching bagged milk at all of its stores.
In mid-2007, Waitrose started selling milk in plastic bags, a move that drastically cut down on the amount of plastic that went into its packaging. The bags are used by placing them in reusable jugs, which hold them in place while they are poured. Waitrose sold both its store brand milk and Calon Wen milk in bags.
The company said it decided to go back to bottles because low demand led to large amounts of wasted milk. The bottles that the company uses are made of commonly-recycled HDPE (identified by resin code number 2), and contain 10 percent recycled content. By 2012, the bottles will have 20 percent recycled content.
Sainsbury's, meanwhile, is selling milk in plastic bags at all of its stores after testing the packaging for 18 months in 50 stores. The company will be the first to carry Dairy Crest's bagged milk, which uses 75 percent less packaging than bottled milk and also costs 6 pence less.
Sainsbury's is also giving away more than half a million of Dairy Crest's Jugit reusable jugs to customers this month.
Milk in bags is common in some places like Canada, but is still in the early stages of testing and acceptance in other countries. Other packaging-reduction techniques that companies are using include hybrid packaging that puts a plastic bag within a paper shell, like the GreenBottle used for milk at Asda and the container made by Ecologic Brands being tested by Whole Foods Market.
Bagged milk - CC license by Flickr user david.orban