Open Minded About Milk…
Hello. My fresh milk from Morrison's has switched from plastic to Tetra Pak and it's really pissed me off.
Morrison's switching their milk from plastic cartons to Tetra-Pak* was announced earlier in the year and nobody noticed. Not even a glimmer in the sustainable news headlines. I can't even see a single self clap emoji on the Morrison's Twitter account
However, with a bit of digging, you can see one or two press release type, eco-blogs that picked it up recently.
The idea is that the switch from millions of plastic cartons of milk, to considerably less plastic using paperboard with a thin plastic lining is a good thing from an eco standpoint.
Why did it piss me off?
Because it took me two-fucking-seconds to think to myself... "Fine". That was that, no head scratching, no debate on quality, no worry about consumer opinion, no consideration at all.
Packaging changed for the better? Great. Move on.
Still Can't See The Problem?
What if it was wine?
If every supermarket in the country just switched to bottling a majority** of their wines in Tetra-Pak from tomorrow, most people would think, "Oh, OK, that's better for the planet, less glass, less weight, less transport costs. Got it". And we'd all be able to move on.
Only that's not going to happen because too many fiddly, fanciful worryists are too fretful about their tradition and marketing budget, too wedded to glass, too wedded to the system.
In order to put wine in a bottle, you general need a glass bottle, some form of closure, be that cork or screwcap, a type of label that included an adhesive. There's lot of little things to co-ordinate.
Labels get printed wrong, they get stuck on wrong, they peel and tear and rip and get skewed and stick together. The capsules can go wrong, screwcaps are infallible and leaky, bottling lines can screw them up.
There's lots of little things that can go wrong.
Tetra Pak is Simpler
From their own website: www.tetrapak.com
"At Tetra Pak Processing Solutions & Equipment, we innovate to enable a sustainable food system for the growing population with minimal impact to the planet.
Leveraging our food application expertise while collaborating with our customers and leading external partners, we are shaping the food industry of tomorrow with future-proof technologies."
Those pesky supermarkets are well known for selling a huge amount** of wine, and most of that wines gets turned around really quickly.
So, why the resistance?
The fundamentals are that the glass part of a bottle of wine has the biggest environmental impact on it. Put the same wine in a better container and a huge amount of impact is vastly reduced..
'Fine Wine' types need not worry about their precious bottles. Nobody is asking you to 'tuck away a Tetra' for years in an environment that isn't equally as conducive to the long term spoilage from a rotting cork.
I'd expect that the racking installed by most cellar dwellers wouldn't be fitting for rows of perfectly square cartons, tessellating neatly on a EuroCave roller-shelf.
Best Before: Next Weekend.
If the wine is of the current vintage, and it's going to be bottled here in the U.K, as so may wines are, why on earth can't we just pop them on the shelf in a fully printed, excellently branded, light, agile Tetra Pak?
We didn't need innovations such as paper bottles, or flat plastic bottles, when the obvious answer available to us already. The entire industry could quickly change the way we think about wine bottles in Supermarkets forever. It just takes one or two people with a bit of balls to do it.
* Full, Morrisons official Press release here.
** I say 'majority' because red wine is much easier in Tetra Pak than whites from a technical perspective.
*** I don't have the precise stats to hand, but the thing that sticks in my memory is that the Big6 account for around 80% of all wines sold.
Some really important stuff, documented well on the Tablas Creek blog, about CO2 reduction for glass bottles for wine. Albeit, Jason decided 3ltr Bag-In-Box was the best way to go.
A Winery Carbon Footprint Self-Assessment: Why I Can't Give Us an "A" Despite All Our Progress
The history of Tetra Pak is not as boring as you may think.
Designed to make a difference