The new milk jug...

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    [If you're visiting from buzzfeed, or from some other websites currently misrepresenting the point of this photo, please see the second update at the end of the description, and the most recent comments. Thanks!]

    Please allow me to rant for a moment.

    Some time ago, COSTCO switched to a new and "improved" packaging method for selling milk. A sticker on the milk jugs explains to us the wonders of the new system, and a big sign in-store provides additional detail...

    • Easy to Pour - New shape makes it simple to pour, just tilt.
    The in-store sign promises "no more spills". Interestingly, with the new jugs, every time we pour there is a spill, which rarely happened (at least to me) with the old ones.

    • Easy to Store - New shape fits better in your refrigerator.
    Our refrigerator must be a mutant. The old shape used to fit better.

    • Stays Fresher Longer - New foil inner seal locks in freshness. Remove inner seal from under the cap before pouring!
    Well, duh. Try pouring without removing the inner seal first.

    • Recyclable Jug
    ...as was the old one.

    Not written on the sticker, but expounded on the in-store sign, they also laud the new system as being more environmentally conscious: instead of the old cardboard box, the two jugs now come packaged in plastic. Less trash, they claim! The small detail they fail to mention is that the cardboard was recyclable while the plastic wrap is garbage.

    Should I mention the ease of carrying? The cardboard box had good handles, the plastic wrapping offers no means for grasping the jugs, which can cause them to fall (it happened to me once, and I'm not particularly clumsy).

    What I can't figure out is why they need to sell two gallons at a time. Why not sell single gallons, doing entirely without the need for extra packaging?

    I wrote them a feedback card detailing all this. So much for that.

    Update: Not surprisingly, I'm not the only one that found issues with the new packaging method...

    Update 2, June 30th, 2008: So I see that this image has been linked to from buzzfeed, under the title "I Hate This New Milk Jug!", which I never wrote. To the new visitors: Contrary to the summary on buzzfeed, which states among other things that the new packaging "creates less waste", the main point I'm making here is that it actually creates MORE waste, since the new packaging cannot be recycled. Less carbon emissions from transportation is great, but the bogus statements about less waste are not.

    Ok, so I've been reading up some more about this new jug design, and I understand better the various benefits it can bring, after one learns to pour milk from it with minimal spills, and after modifying the refrigerator so it actually fits in.
    The problem, then, is with COSTCO adding the plastic wrap to sell two gallons at a time. Instead of the recyclable cardboard box with the convenient handle, now we have extra plastic that (at least here) we can't recycle, and the plastic wrap blocks the jug's handles. All in all, we have pretty much adapted to the new format, and it's just the routine trashing of the needless plastic wrap that keeps rubbing it in.

    View 9 more comments

    1. Eli the Bearded 78 months ago | reply

      It looks like a glue bottle.

    2. bceichman02 78 months ago | reply

      perhaps we could call them at the 1-800 # provided. is there milk inside?

    3. GustavoG 78 months ago | reply

      is there milk inside?

      Well, not anymore in the specific jug depicted here...

    4. pdionne 77 months ago | reply

      I'm sorry to impose but I was happy to read your comment about that milk jug. I'm in the process of putting the Roll'N Pour on the market for the gallon jug and the two liter bottle have a look at a two minutes video at www.rollnpour.com

    5. GustavoG 76 months ago | reply

      Last time I went to Costco (this last Saturday) I noticed they did the same change in packaging to the yoghourt. Used to come in a cardboard flat box, now they're wrapped in non-recyclable plastic.

    6. mikemiller28 [deleted] 71 months ago | reply

      well Sams Club is having milk pouring classes which really insults my intelligence.

    7. GustavoG 71 months ago | reply

      Speaking of intelligence, I hope that anyone who reads the description under this image, plus the tags and comments... understands that the main, bolded point is the one about the bogus claim of the new system producing less garbage, when in fact it produces more.

      It's good that the new format makes transportation more efficient, which reduces pollution. Very good. Too bad they had to ruin it by making such a series of bogus claims about how much better the new format is, otherwise.

    8. scott lamb 71 months ago | reply

      Hi Gustavo -- it wasn't my intention to misrepresent your photo, and I've changed the title/link to this page to more accurately reflect your concerns as stated here. I do disagree with your point that the new packaging creates more waste, though. While the plastic wrap you have to deal with is irksome, it seems that the new design creates less total waste over the full life of the product. The packaging waste that Costco or other distributors used to have to deal with has been removed from the equation, but now you have to deal with it. Which is annoying, but doesn't mean there is actually more waste. You just have to face some of the waste that was previously hidden from the consumer.

    9. GustavoG 71 months ago | reply

      Hey Scott, thanks for writing.

      The misrepresentation didn't refer to the changed title only. There are websites out there quite explicitly linking to this entry as "an example of someone crying over spilt milk", as if all I were doing was whining over a change because of my inability to cope with change. I actually received one such comment the day before yesterday, in rather abusive tones.

      After reading various relevant pages, I understand now better how the new packaging system is an improvement. Just like someone wrote in a comment out there... that the fact that they have to be demonstrating how to pour the milk correctly is a good indicator that the design is not the best. Similarly, the fact that all the environmental benefits of the new system were unclear to me until I researched it, indicates that the way it was presented to the public is very much suboptimal. As a consumer, what I got was a series of apparently wrong statements, that I listed above. Apparently wrong, based on the limited information that was provided.

      One could also question whether it's a good idea to shift some of the waste from the distributor (that can deal with it in a centralized manner) to the consumers (that will end up scattering more plastic debris around).

      In any case, I'd love to learn of any good ideas for ways to reuse the plastic wraps. I've set up long ago a group here in flickr, Tips for Recycling and Reusing, that would most welcome such ideas and suggestions.

    10. scottybrooks99 71 months ago | reply

      Interesting,

      I am not sure where your from but our blue box program takes all plastics. Including the shrink wrap stuff that this packaging appears ot be made of.

      interesting ...

      cheers

      scott

    11. nurssk 70 months ago | reply

      brings a whole new meaning to the phrase 'no use crying over spilt milk'.

      it looks more like I'm drinking a gallon of chlorine than milk... very appealing to everyone's taste I'm sure...

    12. paintYOURworld 70 months ago | reply

      the plastic is great for making into see-thru envelopes or a clear cover for mail art. i'll post a photo & tip in the group.

    13. buartsj 70 months ago | reply

      Now all your pouring problems can be solved by using the new and patented "Pour Thing". A gallon of milk can be poured with just two fingers and the carton can remain in the fridge !!!!! We also make one for the 2 liter pop bottle also. See these remarkable new products by going to www.Solutions.com , then click kitchen, then click dining and entertainment.

    14. HERRUWE 69 months ago | reply

      Gustavo, I like your way questioning your environment. Keep on doing it!
      And also thanks for all your graphics and statistics.

      By the way...
      Who cares about milk? It's only the industry that tells us this udder-secretion may be good for our health. Poppy-seed or sesame for instance has way more calcium than milk. And cows produce heaps of methane emissions.

      Uwe.

    15. GustavoG 69 months ago | reply

      Only the industry? I've seen plenty of scientific papers showing the benefits of milk in the diet, not only for children.

    16. HERRUWE 69 months ago | reply

      I did not want to use "only" ... Cannot think of a better expression right now...

    17. free spirit * 69 months ago | reply

      ...well. We are the only species (that I am aware of) that continues to drink milk after being weened from our mother ...and different species milk on top of it ;-)

      clink~ bottom up! PS. Don't forget to recycle those milk jugs

    18. chuckmoody 68 months ago | reply

      personally, i dont like to consume any foodstuff packaged in plastic. glass milk bottles might break, but they wont leach bisphenol, dioxin, or anything else into my milk....

    19. chuckmoody 68 months ago | reply

      my local city recycling finds it easier to just take everything, and then landfill whatever they cant handle (eg plastic film grocery bags) - than to try to get the public to screen what types of plastic they put into the can

    20. james.gregory 63 months ago | reply

      Come to Canada where our milk is bagged and those bags of milk are sold as triplets in another bag.

      Good for pouring though.

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