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Need to Know

New Statewide Education Campaign Aims to Increase Recycling of Plastic Milk Jugs

Anon_Pichit/Getty Images milkjugfeat.png

TRACY, Calif. -- The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB) today launched a public information campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the recyclability of milk jugs made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) or #2 plastic. The "Recycle the Jug" campaign is designed to drive sustainable behavior change across the state by addressing misconceptions to ensure plastic milk jugs make it into the recycling stream.

A 2021 perceptions study conducted by a dairy industry coalition revealed that while 70 percent of California consumers said recyclability is important to them, nearly half (47 percent) found the milk jug difficult to recycle and 32 percent of those consumers reported they didn't trust it will actually be recycled.

"California consumers are dedicated to doing their part to recycle but many don't understand that the HDPE used for plastic milk jugs is one of the most widely accepted plastics in recycling programs across the United States. It's highly desirable by recyclers because of its value and ability to be turned into new materials," said John Talbot, CEO of the CMAB. "We want to encourage consumers who buy milk in the jug to make sure that jug makes it to the recycling bin to help keep plastic out of landfills."

Working closely with the dairy, retail and recycling industries, the Recycle the Jug campaign encourages consumers to take three simple steps to recycle their plastic milk jugs – Pour it. Cap it. Bin it. A new Recylethejug.com site launched in collaboration with the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) provides complete information on milk jug and other recycling.  And a new recycling icon with the website address will soon appear on milk jugs at retail stores across California as a reminder to consumers to recycle the jug in their local curbside recycling program.

"Dairy processors are constantly exploring ways to provide milk in the most convenient, sustainable packaging – using more recycled HDPE is one example. More recycled content means lower costs for packaging manufacturers and that's what this campaign encourages," said Yin Woon Rani, CEO of MilkPEP. "The more consumers put their milk jugs into the recycling bin, the more responsibly made packaging we can make, and that's something consumers can feel good about."

"HDPE is a valuable resource for recyclers because it can go into a variety of materials, from plastic lumber to packaging for products like milk. Because natural HDPE doesn't have color added, recyclers can add any type of ink or color when reused," said Tim Dewey-Mattia, Recycling & Public Education Manager for Napa Recycling. "Milk jugs are easy to recognize and sort at recycling centers, so consumers can have confidence that their milk jug will actually be recycled. And that reduces the use of virgin materials, saves energy and saves money for both consumers and recycling companies."

The educational campaign builds upon the California dairy industry's commitment to providing nutritious foods produced in a sustainable manner for families to enjoy. California dairy farmers are focused on sustainable farming practices, like the reduction of agricultural emissions and management of precious resources like water.

Visit RecycletheJug.com to learn more about the campaign and plastic milk jug recycling. Additional partners include Albertsons, Alta Dena Dairy, Altium, Andronico's Community Markets, Cal-Waste Recovery Systems, Clover Sonoma, Crystal Creamery, Driftwood, Envision Plastics, Hollandia Dairy, Lucerne Dairy Farms, Napa Recycling, Pavilions, Producers Dairy, Resource Recovery Coalition of California, Safeway, The Association of Plastic Recyclers, and VONS.

About Real California Milk/the California Milk Advisory Board
The California Milk Advisory Board (CMAB), an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is funded by the state's dairy farm families who lead the nation in sustainable dairy farming practices. With a vision to nourish the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk, the CMAB's programs focus on increasing demand for California's sustainable dairy products in the state, across the U.S. and around the world through advertising, public relations, research, and retail and foodservice promotional programs. For more information and to connect with the CMAB, visit RealCaliforniaMilk.comFacebookYouTubeTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

SOURCE California Milk Advisory Board

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