Müller switches to clear milk caps for recycling

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Following a series of successful trials, Müller Milk & Ingredients has started switching its coloured milk bottle caps to clear, and aims to convert its whole range by summer 2023.

In a phased approach, which started in November and will complete in December, the dairy company is currently converting all green semi-skimmed milk, its most popular, into clear caps.

While Müller’s milk bottles, which are manufactured in-house, are fully recyclable and made of at least 30 per cent recycled material (rHDPE), the coloured caps cannot currently be recycled back into food grade packaging.

The introduction of clear caps will enable the retention of the material for reuse within the food sector.

With demand for rHDPE outstripping supply, the move to a “closed loop system” is expected to increase the availability on the market by 1560 tonnes per annum, further reducing requirements for “virgin” plastic.

All other coloured caps will be converted by summer 2023, and Müller is continuing to investigate ways to add recycled content into the caps.

Müller recently converted 75 per cent of its cream volume to rPET pots which are 100 per cent recyclable and contain 82 per cent recycled material, removing 500 tonnes of additional virgin plastic from its annual production. Packaging solutions are being developed for the remaining volume for 2023.

“The humble rHDPE milk bottle is already a tremendous example of the circular economy, but we wanted to do more,” said Rob Hutchison, Chief Executive Officer at Müller Milk & Ingredients. “We want to be the partner of choice for our customers, so we will continue to deliver outstanding levels of service and quality, but also innovate and lead on issues like this which are hugely important, not only for shoppers, but for our customers too.

“Our fresh milk bottles already contain up to 30 per cent recycled material, but with demand still much higher than supply, this move will increase the availability. With access to more, we can partner with our customers to increase this further.

“Following a number of successful trials which proved that shoppers really support the move to clear caps, our focus is now on delivering the full rollout by next summer.”

Müller buys a fifth of all milk produced on Britain’s farms and, throughout 2022, ran a series of successful clear cap trials with retail partners across the UK. Research conducted before these trials in early 2022 showed that consumers support the change to clear caps if it further improves the availability of food grade recycled plastic material.Eight out of ten shoppers said that, given the choice, they would choose a bottle of milk which used a clear milk cap which could be recycled into food grade material, over a coloured one which could not.