To boost recycling, the Co-op pledges to “clean” shelves of all coloured milk bottle tops.

November 16, 2022

To boost recycling, the Co-op pledges to “clean” shelves of all coloured milk bottle tops.

The convenience store today stated that Co-op has made a commitment to remove all coloured milk bottle caps from its shelves, resulting in “obvious” benefits for the recyclability of the lids.

Customers will soon be able to see transparent caps on every Co-op skim, semi-skim, and whole milk in all of its stores throughout the UK’s towns, villages, and cities. Clear bottle tops allow for easier recycling of materials into food-grade packaging by reducing colour contamination in the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) stream. As a result of successful consumer tests on semi-skimmed milk in more than 400 Co-op stores in August, all of its stores will transition from green to clear caps by the end of the following month.

In early 2023, Co-op will then remove red (whole milk caps) and blue (skimmed milk caps). Once all caps are swapped, more than 150 tonnes of coloured plastic might be eliminated annually from HDPE streams. With semi-skimmed milk accounting for more than three-fifths of milk sales, switching to all green caps initially is expected to unlock the majority of the benefits of recyclability.

The new caps, which are more easily recyclable and kept in the food sector than their coloured predecessors, will revolutionise how consumers view milk bottle tops, according to Co-op Milk Buyer Adam Williams. It is difficult to find food grade recycled plastic because of the shortage. It’s critical that packaging be considered a useful resource. We’re always looking for new methods to make it simpler to recycle and reuse these materials, and little adjustments can add up to huge differences over time. This is an “obvious” strategy to lessen the supply chain’s reliance on virgin plastic.

To boost recycling, the Co-op pledges to "clean" shelves of all coloured milk bottle tops.

Adam Herriott, Sector Specialist – Resource Management, WRAP, stated: “WRAP strongly supports Co-op, a founding member of The UK Plastics Pact, in removing all colours from HDPE milk bottle caps. This innovation has helped the HDPE milk bottle gain recognition as a shining example of the circular economy. It will also allow the caps to be recycled along with the bottle and used again in food-grade applications, allowing for numerous recycling cycles into high-grade, durable materials.

high-quality products and materials. However, it is absolutely crucial that people recycle their bottles with the “cap on” to guarantee that they are efficiently caught and recycled. We must all continue, as in industry, to go further and ensure we bring in further reforms that are advantageous to consumers and the environment.