Clover Sonoma, a third-generation family-owned and operated dairy and Certified B Corporation in Petaluma, CA, is launching the first post-consumer recycled (PCR) gallon milk jug in the US. Starting with 30% PCR content on the organic milk gallon line, the company commits to increasing the PCR content and extending PCR content use across all the brand’s gallon milk jugs by 2025. Using PCR content in plastic packaging creates a closed-loop system for recycling plastic gallon milk jugs and ensures that plastic is reused.
It’s not the first environmental packaging improvement for the dairy. Clover Sonoma announced the first fully renewable milk carton in the United States in 2020. The company also made the conscious decision to reduce plastic waste by saying “no” to plastic caps on paper milk cartons. Being the first to come out with a 30% PCR content gallon milk jug is the next step in sustainable packaging innovation. The first PCR milk jugs will be on shelf in the first quarter of 2022 with a designated logo to educate consumers about the new packaging’s benefits.
“To reach our sustainability goals, packaging innovation is a priority for us as a company,” says Kristel Corson, Chief Revenue Office. “Finding sustainable solutions means taking risks and investing in what’s best for the planet. We are focused on improving our packaging across product lines using reusable, recyclable, renewable, and environmentally conscious resources. We encourage the food industry to join us in this effort.”
Corson points to a partnership with Altium Packaging in Atlanta, GA, for helping make this happen. Says Josh Hovis, Altium Packaging VP of Sales, Food, Nutrition, Beverage, "meeting consumer demand for recycled products like this has challenged us to get the product in market quickly in Q1 2022, while also working to design something that meets current requirements and anticipates those coming in the future.”
PCR content benefits.
Once collected, baled, melted (or ground), and molded into new items, the PCR plastic can then be molded into a variety of finished products, including plastic gallon milk jugs. PCR packaging may have a slightly darker appearance and is food safe and FDA approved.
PCR packaging matches the quality of regular packaging including the same level of protection, barrier performance, and strength as regular plastic. PCR content will still block light, oxygen, and other gases from penetrating the packaging and affecting the product quality. Overall, using PCR packaging helps reduce Clover Sonoma’s carbon footprint, lessens impact on landfills, and meets overall sustainability goals.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy can transform the future of plastic packaging as it focuses on transforming our throwaway economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated.
“By closing the loop on gallon milk jugs, Clover Sonoma is helping keep packaging out of landfills,” says California Milk Advisory Board CEO John Talbot. “California dairy producers and processors are committed to providing a sustainable, nutritious product while working together to reduce the environmental impact of milk across its entire lifecycle. This initiative is an important step in that journey.”
Currently, the company’s gallon milk jugs are made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, identified for recycling as #2 plastic, which is one of the most widely accepted plastics in US recycling programs. As Clover Sonoma produces milk gallon jug packaging using more PCR content, the company will need a greater volume of recycled HDPE. If more consumers rinse, cap, and place gallon milk jugs in a recycling bin for pickup, the company can produce more milk gallon jugs from recycled PCR content to further support a circular economy.