about our Reusable bottles
A common question we get is: in what type of container is our milk bottled?
There are 4 primary packaging materials for milk - disposable plastic, returnable plastic, waxed cardboard and returnable glass. At Wasatch Milk we use returnable plastic. This article will list the pros and cons of each material and outline the environmental and logistical issues of why we choose returnable plastic.
Our bottles are made of returnable plastic that contain absolutely zero BPA (Bisphenol A) and can be reused over a hundred times. Our containers only come in half gallons - which are slightly thicker and have a completely translucent (clear instead of clouded) finish compared to disposable plastic.
Disposable Plastic (We don't use) - These are the most common containers used for milk in the USA. They are blow molded from pellets (about 4 oz) of plastic and are intended to only be used once then recycled, however they cannot be used for milk again. They are a very low investment to purchase in bulk and are either blown on site by larger plants or ordered in on truck by smaller plants.
Returnable Plastic (What we use) - These bottles contain slightly more plastic than a disposable bottle per container (about 3 times as much) but are incredibly resilient and can be reused hundreds of times. It is a fair statement to say that compared to disposable plastic - they result in about 2% of the eventual recycled material used in disposable plastic since they are sanitized and reused so many time. Returnable plastic bottles are also very hard to break and are much safer to handle than glass. They also weigh a fraction of what glass bottles weigh so they require significantly less fuel and resources to acquire, collect and deliver. The particular bottles we use were designed locally by Rosehill Dairy in Hyrum, UT and contain no BPA or any other chemicals that can leach into the milk.
Waxed Cardboard (We don't use) - These are typically what you get when you purchase most ultra pasteurized (UHT and shelf stable) and organic milks. These containers are made from cardboard that is dipped in wax and glued together with food safe glue to create the container. They are meant to be recycled after use and are easy to handle and ship.
Returnable Glass Bottles (We don't use) - nothing says old fashioned like a glass milk bottle. We originally planned on delivering in glass but after carefully comparing glass and returnable plastic (factors including environmental and safety concerns, logistics and cost savings we can pass onto you, our customers) - we chose to use returnable plastic containers for our milk. A main issue for us with glass is for every 6 times a glass bottle is filled it is never returned or is out of circulation because of breakage (breakage could occur in transit to and from our plant or at a customers' home). A secondary issue is our supplier for glass bottles is located towards the east coast of Canada - meaning every order has to be shipped on a semi truck across the country. The final issue to address is the weight of glass. Each glass half gallon bottle weighs half of the weight of the actual milk it contains - or about 2.5 lbs per bottle. This weight means more fuel is needed to transport the bottles.
I have had experience bottling and delivering every type of container listed above. While each has its pros/cons, I was absolutely more partial to glass bottles - until Rosehill Dairy created the new returnable plastic half gallon bottles. I have examined each container from every possible angle and without a doubt I believe plastic returnables have the least negative environmental impact (due to the incredible re-usage rate, local availability and durability) and also the easiest and safest for every person to handle.
At Boise Milk, I had drivers get cut on glass bottles and received letters about half gallons being too heavy for children and the elderly to handle. It was rare, but occasionally glass bottles would crack and break in peoples fridges on their own (and in storage in the plant and trucks) resulting in messy spills - even one customers' brand new refrigerator was ruined!
A common concern with plastic is: will it leach any chemicals or add anything undesired into the milk? Older designs of milk bottles contained BPA until recently. The milk bottles we get from Rosehill Dairy do not contain BPA and there are no known chemicals or additives that can leach into the milk.
Accounting for environmental concerns, logistics and cost savings we can pass onto you, our customers - We choose to bottle our milk exclusively in returnable plastic.
Co-Owner at Wasatch Milk