Supermarket Waitrose has announced it is to replace the coloured plastic caps on its milk bottles with clear alternatives in a move that should increase the availability of recycled plastic (rHDPE) on the market by 1,560 tons.
The change will make recycling the plastic much easier, the firm added, potentially resulting in lower costs and higher recycling rates.
The move follows a successful trial earlier this year, with the company replacing the familiar blue, green, and red milk bottle caps with the clear alternative. The change will now be made permanent across all of its 331 shops with immediate effect.
The change means the bottle and cap can now be recycled together in a ‘closed loop’ system allowing the caps to be recycled and reused as food grade material – a streamlined process which was not possible with the coloured caps.
Demand for rHDPE currently outstrips supply and by introducing the clear caps and keeping material within a closed loop system, Waitrose said there would now be more rHDPE available on the market, further reducing dependency on virgin plastic.
The new clear caps will be used on all Essential Waitrose milk, which accounts for 44 per cent of the company’s milk sales. The supermarket plans to roll out the new cap more widely across the Waitrose own label milk range next year. The label artwork on the bottles has also been redesigned to add more color and “assist customers in selecting their milk of choice in store”, Waitrose said.
“Partner and customer feedback during the trial has been overwhelmingly positive and this national rollout will help us achieve our goal of making more of the plastic we use circular and fit to be repurposed time and time again,” said Lisa Oaten, milk buyer at Waitrose .
Muller, which buys a fifth of all milk produced by British farms and which Waitrose partnered with on the initial trial, is the first dairy company in the UK to trial clear caps on fresh milk. The dairy giant is to produce fresh milk bottles in-house which are 100 per cent recyclable and contain up to 40 per cent food grade recycled material.