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‘Proud to choose plastic’

Abel & Cole reveals the UK’s first refillable plastic milk bottle
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Proud to choose plastic

Abel & Cole has revealed an unlikely milk packaging hero that could save the dairy industry a whopping 300,000 tonnes of carbon a year. The secret? Plastic.
The sustainable online grocer has announced it is ‘proud to choose plastic’ for the launch of its Club Zero Refillable Milk.

The product, which will join its growing refillables range, uses a ground-breaking refillable packaging innovation that will see Abel & Cole save 450,000 single-use plastic milk bottles (23 tonnes of plastic) and 60 tonnes of carbon each year.

Sustainable and scalable

Everyone’s used to glass bottles from the milkman. They’re sustainable – aren’t they? Well, it’s complicated. Glass is heavy. And heavy means more carbon.
When it came to developing Club Zero Refillable Milk bottles, Abel & Cole wanted to find the most sustainable, scalable solution. It has been saying no to pointless plastic since 1988, so this was a difficult question.

What if plastic isn’t always the enemy? What if, for refillable milk, plastic is actually the best material for the job?

Is plastic the enemy?

Over the course of several years, the ground-breaking packaging innovation has received hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment, including a grant from Innovate UK’s Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) Challenge.

It took three years, three failed experiments and seven teams of experts including Berry Global, Campden BRI and key collaborators, Berkley Farm Dairy.

Now, Abel & Cole has successfully created the UK’s first ever reusable, environmentally friendly, refillable plastic milk bottle.

‘When it comes to packaging materials, plastic is often seen as the enemy. But, we challenged ourselves to ask if it was better to use glass, which is heavier and more energy-intensive to make, or to go against the grain.
‘Club Zero Refillable Milk utilises existing packaging resource and technology, safely allows for multiple refills and is completely recyclable. There’s been plenty of trial and error along the way, but we’ve trailblazed a more sustainable way to deliver and refill milk and are proud to choose plastic. Imagine the impact we could have if the entire dairy industry made the switch too!’

Sustainability lead at Abel & Cole

Glass, plastic and emissions

Made from 100% Poplypropylene (PP), the Club Zero Refillable Milk bottle will cut the carbon footprint of Abel & Cole’s single-use milk bottles in half after just four returns.

But that’s not all. When looking at the carbon footprint of glass milk bottles, it would take over 15 returns to reach similar emissions savings.
In fact, if most of the 7 billion litres of milk distributed in the UK each year switched to reusable plastic, the dairy industry would save a huge 300,000 tonnes of a carbon. That’s why the certified B Corporation has decided to offer its sustainable secrets to the dairy industry.

‘As a dairy, we currently use a lot of single-use plastic and this is something we really want to cut down on.
‘After supplying organic milk to Abel & Cole for more than twenty years, we’re so excited about the innovation of Club Zero Refillable Milk and the sustainable impact this could have on the industry.’

Berkeley Farm Dairy

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