New eco-friendly milk jugs are making their way into the market, and while the changes make milk less expensive to ship and are better for the environment, some consumers are crying over the milk they spill as they adjust to the no spout carton.
The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined, they say, and many products must be redesigned for greater efficiency.
Wal-Mart Stores is already moving down this path. But if the milk jug is any indication, some of the changes will take getting used to on the part of consumers. Many spill milk when first using the new jugs.
Others, even those who rue the day their tried-and-true jugs were replaced, praised the lower cost, from $2.18 to $2.58 a gallon. Sam’s Club said that was a savings of 10 to 20 cents a gallon compared with old jugs.
Milk crates are necessary because the shape of old-fashioned milk jugs prohibits stacking them atop one another. The crates take up a lot of room, they are unwieldy to move, and extra space must be left in delivery trucks to take empty ones back from stores to the dairy. They also can be filthy, using thousands of gallons of water a day to clean the crates.
But with the new jugs, the milk crates are gone. Instead, a machine stacks the jugs, with cardboard sheets between layers. Then the entire pallet, four layers high, is shrink-wrapped and moved with a forklift.
More gallons fit on a truck and in Sam’s Club coolers, and no empty crates need to be picked up, reducing trips to each Sam’s Club store to two a week, from five — a big fuel savings. Also, Sam’s Club can now store 224 gallons of milk in its coolers, in the same space that used to hold 80. The whole operation is so much more efficient that milk coming out of a cow in the morning winds up at a Sam’s Club store by that afternoon, compared with several hours later or the next morning by the old method.