Got Milk?

February 1st, 2019

Those of us here in the United States are mostly familiar with buying milk in cardboard cartons


Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

Those of us here in the United States are mostly familiar with buying milk in cardboard cartons, or plastic jugs.  Although, Americans who live in the Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa region, Kwik Trip sells milk in a bag in Whole, 2%, 1%, Skim and Chocolate. Throughout the rest of the world, including our Canadian neighbors to the north, milk is sold in non-resealable plastic bags.  The innovation was introduced in 1967 by DuPont using European equipment. The new packaging quickly found favor with the domestic dairy industry, because they are lighter and less fragile than glass bottles. However, the consumer public preferred plastic jugs for years, but largely accepted the new containers in certain regions in the 1970s.

How do milk bags work? The way it works is you take the bag and place it into a milk bag pitcher or holder, then cut a triangular hole in the tip, and pour as you would any other pitcher of a beverage. Two accessories are commonly associated with Canadian milk bags: pitchers and bag openers. The key-shaped bag opener with a clip and a magnet was invented in Toronto in 1979.

In the U.S. classic glass milk bottles were replaced by cardboard containers in the early 20th century because the paper containers were significantly lighter and easier to transport in large quantities. G. W. Maxwell developed the first paper milk carton in 1906.  Workers manufactured these cartons by hand, including gluing them together. The paper was coated in paraffin wax to make them waterproof.  John Van Wormer of Toledo, Ohio, received a patent for his folded paper milk carton, which he called “Pure-Pak,” on November 16, 1915. The design is efficient, because there’s no lid required. Simply pop out the spout and pour.

Even though there’s more equipment involved with drinking milk from bags, it’s actually better for the environment than the alternative. In Toronto, for example, milk bags are recyclable as long as they’re rinsed out, and milk bags take up significantly less space than a jug or a carton. Milk cartons and jugs are technically recyclable, though according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, over 70% of milk jugs are sent to the landfill.

People use milk bags because they are more eco-friendly. Grocery stores in the United Kingdom have also been testing out milk bags instead of cartons or jugs for this very reason. Back in 2010, Sainbury’s made the switch because the milk bags would contain 75% less plastic than the jugs and ultimately save up to 1,400,000kg of packaging every year, according to a report from The Guardian. They also require fewer resources to produce.

So which do you choose, “paper or plastic?”

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.





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