customers recycling Waste Crisis Milk Cartons
Photo Credit: On File

Customers dedicated to recycling found that the milk bottles they were using, didn’t have a successful recycling rate so they asked for better packaging and got it!


Cape Town, Western Cape – Customers had an issue with one brand’s standard packaging because it was difficult to recycle. They sent through emails of concern and the company listened.

When you buy your milk, do you really look at the bottle? Have you ever thought about the planning that goes into the shape of the bottle, its colour or what it is made of?

Fair Cape Dairies put a great deal of thought put into each stage of the process for packaging their milk but have sometimes admitted even the best-laid plans do not turn out exactly as expected.

Their milk is sold in white plastic bottles, and research showed that the white PET bottles were technically acceptable for recycling, so the new bottles began to roll off the production line.

But what they didn’t take into account is that at the recycling centres, various coloured bottles are separated by colour and some recycling centres are reluctant to do the separation.

“It turned out that some recyclers were reluctant to accept the white bottles because they had to be separated from the clear bottles during the recycling process,” said Louis Loubser, CMO for Fair Cape Dairies.

“We became aware of the problem when our customers started emailing us, and we immediately decided to take action.”

To accommodate customer queries, they worked to find out which recyclers were still accepting the white bottles, and to let the customers, collectors and buy-back centres know. Through these efforts, they found out that there just weren’t enough of them. 

“We met with many different suppliers and ran tests for about 18 months. The white additive had helped to maintain the shelf life of the product, so we needed to make sure that we didn’t lose this while introducing a bottle without the white additive. Eventually, we found a specific supplier with an acceptable solution,” Loubser explained. 

Through the process of listening to customers concerns, they made the bottle out of clear PET plastic, meaning that the bottle is fully recyclable. But then went one step further and now each bottle is made with 50% recycled PET (rPET). 

This highlights a partnership across the value chain that shifted from a non-recycled to 100% recycled packaging, with little to no impact on the quality of the product. With not too much effort, the industry responded to a need and was able to design packaging to be compatible with the existing recycling infrastructure while not compromising on product quality and consumer expectation. That is a win-win-win situation worth celebrating. 

Other companies can take a leaf out of Fair Cape Dairies’ book and supply solutions that benefit both concerned consumers and the environment as a whole. For PETCO’s recycling guidelines, read here

Sources: Supplied
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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