Woolworths makes milk bottle caps clear for easier recycling

One of Australia’s biggest supermarkets has made a small but significant change to its milk bottles.

Woolworths is ditching the light and dark blue bottle caps on its own-brand milk and moving to clear lids.

Shoppers in NSW, Victoria and Queensland may have already spotted the change with the initial trial starting this week. There are plans to expand the program across the country next year.

Woolworths is moving to clear caps as they can be recycled into more new products compared to coloured bottle caps. This means 290,000kg of plastic from millions of milk bottles will now be more effectively recycled each year.

Colour plastic lids need to be separated during the recycling process, with the item being less versatile.

“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,” Will Herron, Woolworths Dairy merchandise manager, 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.”

Chris Foley, CEO of the Australia Packaging Covenant Organisation, said small changes like this were important and he hoped more companies followed suit.

“Milk bottles won’t be the last Woolworths product to get a clear cap makeover to increase the quality of recovered plastic, with transparent lids soon to feature on Woolworths own-brand cream and bottled water. The change has already taken place across Woolworths’ yoghurt pouches,” Mr Foley said.

“This change is just one in a series Woolworths is making behind the scenes which may be imperceptible to customers, but stacks up to make grocery shopping more sustainable.”

He said other initiatives included lighter packaging, more made from recycled plastic and making items easier to recycle.

Woolworths customers are advised to crush their milk bottle by stepping on it, then screw the lid on the bottle to ensure it doesn’t get discarded during recycling. It said loose lids are too small for most plastic recycling equipment.

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