Sainsbury's starts selling milk... in bags

Milk bags

From today, across all its stores, Sainsbury's is to start selling milk in bags. The move could finally bring to an end the 130 year reign of the milk bottle. Compared to an equivalent two pint plastic bottle, milk in a bag will cost at least six pence less because it uses 75 per cent less packaging and is cheaper to produce. The cost of a 2 pint milk bag is 80p while a 2 pint milk carton costs 86p.

Said Sainsbury's spokeswoman Emma Metcalf King: "This is the biggest change to occur to the nation's shopping habits for at least a decade. The familiar clink of the glass milk bottle could finally become a thing of the past."

The new, super strong milk bags will appear in all Sainsbury's stores this week. Milk in familiar plastic bottles will also continue to be stocked.

Milk is one of Sainsbury's biggest selling lines - customers bought over 785 million pints last year.

Bottles have been the preferred milk container in Britain since 1880 when they were introduced by the Express Dairy Company. For the next 70 years, the clink of glass milk bottles being delivered became a familiar morning sound for households across the UK. Glass bottles were dominant until the early 1970, before loosing favour to milk in cartons. Today's familiar plastic screw top milk bottles were introduced in the early 1990s.

The new milk bags are designed to fit easily into a re-useable jug - Sainsbury's is giving away over half a million of them to its customers in April.  

Switching to the new bags could save up to 1,400,000 kg of packaging every year. It will also make recycling easier for consumers fed up with seeing their recycling bins fill rapidly with today's bulky plastic milk bottles.

Said Emma Metcalf-King: "It's all about giving our customers choice. They can reduce the amount of packaging they use, and also save a bit of money, by buying milk in bags or continue to buy milk in conventional plastic bottles. However, we believe the new bags will prove to be a huge hit with environmentally aware shoppers as well as those on a tight budget.

"Even though they're easy to recycle, the bags are also fantastically strong, so there is absolutely no chance of them bursting all over your shopping. We're continually seeking new ways to do things better and cheaper for our customers, so every product we sell is always under scrutiny."  

Sainsbury's decision follows a successful trial of the bag for the last 18 months. Smaller retailers have toyed with the idea of milk in bags in the past, but only Sainsbury's has decided to introduce the new format across the country. Milk sold in bags is already a regular choice for 60 per cent of consumers in Canada, Poland, South Africa and China. Despite the popularity of plastic bottles, some milk from specialist producers is still sold in traditional glass bottles.

Notes to editors

  • The bags are made from very strong low density (polyethylene) and have undergone extensive testing to ensure their durability. The milk bag fits within the reusable jug - JUGITTM - which contains a spike that pierces the bag, forms a no-leak seal, and delivers milk through the spout.
  • Sainsbury's takes environmental issues seriously, and aims to be environmentally responsible in the way its business is run. The retailer also wants to make it easy for customers to be environmentally responsible.
  • Climate change represents a huge challenge, and tackling the issue involves addressing both direct and indirect impacts. Sainsbury's is working hard to reduce its operational footprint and continues to develop a better understanding of the carbon embodied in its products and in the construction of its  buildings.

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About the article

  • Posted on: 25 February 2010
  • Type of article: Press release

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