The Environmental Impact of Delivering Milk in Glass Bottles

Delivering Milk in Glass Bottles or Recyclable Packaging

Delivering MilkFrom time to time we hear nostalgic regrets about the demise of delivering milk in the lowly glass milk bottle.

The clink of the glass in the early morning, the washing of the bottles and putting them outside the door as the last daily action before retiring for the night.

A daily ritual that has been, and is again being promoted as the ultimate in environmentally friendly consumption.

Or is it?

The following numbers relate to large movements of milk using trucks capable of a 24 tonne payload.

To move 23,500 litres of milk using Tetra Pac Cartons or plastic bottles means transporting a total of  24 tonnes. 23.5 tonnes of outward payload and  500kg of Tetrapak packaging, . This packaging can be recycled in our green recycling bins

To deliver 23,500 litres of milk using glass bottles, each bottle weighing 0.35kg and containing  500ml (0.88 pint), would mean an outward payload of 49,950kg (49.9t) and then a return payload of 16,450kg (16.5t) of empty glass.

We now need two trucks to do the delivery (if we are limited to 24 tonnes per truck, we can’t deliver all the milk)  To simplify the calculation let’s just send an extra 24 tonne truck along with the delivery and then have it collect the empty glass for return to the refilling plant.

The above of course only gets the milk to and from the distribution warehouse or supermarket, the extra 16.5 tonnes of glass then has to be collected by the consumer or transported in smaller lots by your friendly milkman delivering milk to the end user and back again, once the milk has been consumed

When the glass is returned to the refilling plant, it must first be sent to a washing and testing line to be examined for contaminants or cracks and then transported to the filling lines.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s us assume that the milk bottle moves four times for each usage. So for each half litre of milk consumed we move 1.4 kg of glass. (0.35kg per bottle X four movements.)

Delivering milk in glassIf each person in Ireland consumed one bottle of milk per day there would be a need to transport 6580 tonnes of glass about the place every day which would require in the region of an extra 140 large articulated trucks for the trunking movements and a myriad of smaller trucks and vans bringing the milk to individual consumers.

To transport 2.35 million litres of milk in cartons or plastic requires about 59 tonnes of recyclable packaging. Even if all of this packaging was landfilled or incinerated the environmental impact is dramatically lower than using glass

Apart from the economic cost of moving all this extra weight around, washing and cleaning of the bottles and recycling of broken glass, the environmental consequences moving this amount of glass around the place surely requires that the lowly milk bottle be left consigned to nostalgia and the happy times when ignorance was bliss

Back-up numbers
Weight of  1 milk bottle =                             0.35 kg
Weight of Plastic or Tetra Pak carton=        0.025kg
Weight of one litre of milk=                         1kg    
Population of Ireland 2016,                         4.7 million       

The calculations above are designed to present a concept and may not be scientifically accurate to the nearest litre or kg.


Here at Electronic Recycling we do not recycle glass but we do recycling anything with a plug or a battery including the total destruction of data media in compliance with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which will come into force on May 25th this year (2018)

Posted in: Environment

GDPR Protection of Personal Data from 25th May 2018

General Data Protection Regulations, GDPR

On May 25th the EU General Data Protection Regulation, GDPR will come directly into force across the EU. This is a “Regulation” so therefore it does not need individual Member State transposition into national laws, it applies automatically and immediately.

The aim if the regulation
It allows European Union (EU) citizens to better control their personal data. It also modernises and unifies rules allowing businesses to reduce red tape and to benefit from greater consumer trust.

The general data protection regulation (GDPR) is part of the EU data protection reform package, along with the data protection directive for police and criminal justice authorities.

Key Points

Citizens’ rights
The GDPR strengthens existing rights, provides for new rights and gives citizens more control over their personal data. These include:

Easier access to their data
including providing more information on how that data is processed and ensuring that that information is available in a clear and understandable way;

A new right to data portability
making it easier to transmit personal data between service providers;

A clearer right to erasure (‘right to be forgotten’)
when an individual no longer wants their data processed and there is no legitimate reason to keep it, the data will be deleted;

Right to know when their personal data has been hacked
Companies and organisations will have to inform individuals promptly of serious data breaches. They will also have to notify the relevant data protection supervisory authority.

Rules for businesses

The GDPR is designed to create business opportunities and stimulate innovation through a number of steps including:

A single set of EU-wide rules
a single EU-wide law for data protection is estimated to make savings of €2.3 billion per year;

A data protection officer
responsible for data protection, will be designated by public authorities and by businesses which process data on a large scale;

businesses only have to deal with one single supervisory authority (in the EU country in which they are mainly based);

EU rules for non-EU companies;
companies based outside the EU must apply the same rules when offering services or goods, or monitoring behaviour of individuals within the EU;

Innovation-friendly rules
a guarantee that data protection safeguards are built into products and services from the earliest stage of development (data protection by design and by default);

Privacy-friendly techniques
such as pseudonymising (when identifying fields within a data record are replaced by one or more artificial identifiers) and encryption (when data is coded in such a way that only authorised parties can read it);

Removal of notifications
The new data protection rules will scrap most notification obligations and the costs associated with these. One of the aims of the data protection regulation is to remove obstacles to free flow of personal data within the EU. This will make it easier for businesses to expand;

Impact assessments
Businesses will have to carry out impact assessments when data processing may result in a high risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals;

SMEs are not required to keep records of processing activities, unless the processing is regular or likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of the person whose data is being processed.


Data Security and the regulation covering the GDPR does not end when you are no longer using the storage media that contains the data. It is important to make certain that your GDPR implementation strategy includes a process for dealing with end of life data storage media.

This is where Electronic Recycling can help. We have been managing secure data destruction since 2009 check out our Data Destruction page.

If you have responsibility for the GDPR implementation, give us a shout, we take that responsibility seriously.

Reference: EUR-Lex, Access to European Law 

Posted in: Business, Data Security, GDPR