Time To Return To Milkmen?

If you’re like me, you’ve been reading a lot recently about how much plastic is piling up in the environment. About how plastics are expected to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050, and bits of plastic debris smaller than 5mm, called microplastics, are being found in our water, our air, even in our bodies. The worst part is plastics simply don’t go away. And recycling doesn’t seem to be working. So what can be done?

Back in the 1950s, before this plastic inundation, about a third of U.S. households, including mine, were getting milk delivered right to our doorsteps in reusable glass jugs by a milkman. Not only did he deliver milk, he collected the empty jugs to be reused, since they were the dairy’s property. What if we returned to that concept?

Time to think outside the box — we’re not just talking milk here. What if, for example, your shampoo bottle was reusable? What if these reusable containers were owned by the companies that made the product? When the product was consumed, the company would send someone to retrieve its package, which could then be reused and sold again? Just like we used to buy our milk!

Think of a loop, which is exactly what this idea is being called — The Loop was recently announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and will be tested with several thousand consumers and 300 products in New York and Paris in May. As can be seen from the diagram, some components of this modern loop are different from the 1950s, like UPS and internet ordering. Time marches on, even with loops.

So if you too are tired of seeing plastic everywhere, get all the details from “How to solve the world’s plastics problem: Bring back the milk man” by Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business at https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/01/business/loop-reusable-packaging-mission-ahead/index.html?. The diagram came from that site.

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