Woolworths changes coloured milk caps for clear caps to improve recycling habits

One of Australia’s largest supermarkets recently made a simple change in the milk aisle and Australians could see a wave of other supermarket giants follow suit.

Woolworths ditched coloured milk caps for clear caps in 2023, an eco-conscious move that Aussie shoppers have continued to spot during their weekly grocery shops.

As part of a new trial, Woolworths made the change in select stores across the country but has continued to roll out the initiative nationwide.

The move now means 290,000kg of plastic can be more effectively recycled.

“Coloured plastic currently needs to be separated from clear plastic during recycling. While coloured plastic can presently be recycled, the coloured pigment makes it less versatile, as it can only be recycled into dark coloured plastic,” Woolworths said.

“Clear plastic leads to better quality recycling and allows the lids to be turned back into clear or coloured plastic, which means it could potentially be used to make a new milk bottle.”

Woolworths dairy merchandise manager Will Herron said the change would lead to better recycling for million of bottles.

“We’re pleased to be the first Australian supermarket to start the switch for our own-brand milk to help our customers’ good recycling habits go further,” Mr Herron said.

“Our customers are pretty cluey – so we expect them to spot the change, but it’s important they know why their milk bottle looks a little different.

“This small change will lead to better recycling for millions of milk bottles once it rolls out across our range.

“We also want to take this opportunity to remind our customers to reattach their milk lids when the bottle goes into the recycling bin to ensure it gets properly recycled into a new product.

Australia Packaging Covenant Organisation chief executive Chris Foley said changes like these may be small but were still important.

“Small changes like this stack up to help recycled material go into a greater variety of new products, and we hope to see more companies follow this move,” Mr Foley said.

“Customers should always look for the Australasian recycling label logo on their Woolworths brand milk and other supermarket products for easy-to-follow instructions to ensure their packaging ends up in the right place.”

The supermarket said this particular change wouldn’t be the last, with brand cream and bottled water expected to get a clear cap in the future.

Woolworths’ yoghurt pouches were the first product to transition to a clear cap.

Coles has been contacted for comment.

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