Following the launch of our customer survey last week, there have been a number of questions and points raised around the use of glass bottles for our products. We would like to address these points by outlining the reasons that we are not considering glass as a replacement for our milk packaging:
• According to the Jan 2013 issue of International Journal of Lifecycle Assessment*, glass beverage bottles cause the most environmental damage, including global warming. Reusing a glass bottle three times lowers it carbon footprint roughly to that of a single-use plastic beverage bottle. If the plastic bottle gets recycled, however, then the glass bottle must be reused 20 times to make their carbon footprint comparable. This is even more staggering when compared to the plant based carton options which we are considering. Glass bottles have emissions of 150 – 440kg CO2e per 1000 litres** whereas plant based cartons have a negative CO2 footprint – that is, producing this pack actually removes CO2 from the environment. This is because of the large "biogenic uptake" that happens when the sugarcane grows. This sugarcane is the base material for the plant based plastic. The CO2 emission is measured as cradle to gate – that means it is measured up until it leaves the factory gate, and the total emission is negative 21g CO2 per pack. This is confirmed by independent life cycle assessments***
• We produce a total of 128,000 units per week including cartons and polybottles. It is difficult to obtain figures on the average number of uses of a glass milk bottle but Jacksons Dairy states that their average usage is 13 times before it is sent to be recycled. Bearing the scale of our milk production in mind, the carbon cost of transporting the heavy and fragile glass to the Island, and carbon used throughout the cleaning and sterilisation process, using sustainable plant based cartons would be a greener way for us to operate. We could transport 673,200 flat packed cartons to the Island in the same truck space as 65,500 bottles.
• We are liaising with Isle of Man Government Waste Management to look into recycling options for the new plant based cartons. At the moment, all cartons are sent to the Energy from Waste plant where they are incinerated to produce energy for the Island. We will continue to look into recycling options for our cartons. Our polybottles are recyclable and can be placed into the kerbsite recycling tubs or taken to your local Civic Amenity Site where there are specific plastic bottle recycling bins.
• We operate a glass-free site to comply with the requirements of our BRC and Marks and Spencer audits which allow us to sell our products to large scale supermarkets all over the world.
We are committed to accepting every drop of milk that is produced by our farmers, which is in the region of 26million litres a year. Of this, 6 million litres is sold as liquid milk on Island, the remaining 20 million litres is then turned into cheese. Producing this volume of cheese requires us to be able to export and sell through other channels and comply with the industry standard auditing processes that are in place, which includes operating a glass-free site.
** Towards Life Cycle Sustainability Management, Editors: Finkbeiner, Matthias (Ed.)