UK dairy farm set to be first single use plastic free farm

Posted on 16 Dec 2019
UK dairy farm set to be first single use plastic free farm

An innovative dairy farm in Scotland is aiming to become the first milk producer to eliminate its consumption of single use plastic.

At pat of this ambitious but worthy plan, the owner of Mossgiel Farm, Bryce Cunningham, set up a crowdfunding campaign which has raised more than £10,000 to help the farm slash its plastic use. The donated money has already helped Mr Cunningham replace single-use plastic cartons with 32,000 glass bottles which can be washed and reused over and over. The money has also helped him refurbish an old bottling machine from the 1960’s which was left over from a nearby farm which had stopped dairying. 

Plastic free dairy farming

Other dairy farms are also swapping plastic for glass, but Mr Cunningham has stepped up his efforts by also eliminating single use plastic from feed, chemicals and other items bought into the farm. He’s also finding alternatives to plastic silage wraps which are used to store food for cattle over the winter. 

As the moment, Mossgeil has a herd of 55 cows whose milk, alongside two other organic farms that supply him, goes out to between 8,000 – 10,000 people in glass bottles across Scotland. In the new year, Mr Cunningham will also begin trials of supplying milk in 2-litre glass bottles to the 300 cafes he currently supplies, a more practical solution for establishments that get through a lot of the white stuff. While the smaller glass milk bottles are the most common size in the UK, the Scottish farmer was able to source larger ones from the US. 

Is glass the best alternative?

Mr Cunningham admits “it is more expensive to produce milk this way because we need to employ a washer to clean the returned bottles and plastic cartons. But the idea of using glass and cutting out single-use plastic fits with what we want our business to stand for. We want to be more aware of waste and our environmental footprint.”

There is some debate about how eco-friendly glass milk bottles actually are because it’s thought using plastic containers actually produces less greenhouse gas emissions as they can be packed more tightly for transportation. According to a study conducted by Manchester University, glass bottles would need to be re-used at least 20 times for the offset to be comparable to partly recycled plastics. However, Mr Cunningham’s glass bottles have, for the most part, been washed and re-used over 50 times and are still going strong. 

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