- 4 Aug 08, 01:45 PM GMT
There is something pleasingly old-fashioned about a doorstep milk delivery, the clink of the glass bottles and the hum of the electric milk float.
Maybe it's because when I was a child in the 1970s, the television series Play School seemed to show a milk bottling plant "through the round window" practically every week.
So, I am excited that our first delivery will arrive on Wednesday.
I had no idea whether there was a milkman who delivered in our area but a quick look on findmeamilkman.net confirmed that there was.
I even placed my order online and, should I ever need to vary the weekly order, I can tweak that too - a virtual note in the empty bottle.
As a nation, we do get through a lot of the white stuff: according to Defra, the UK produces between 13-14 billion litres of milk a year, of which almost half is processed into liquid milk.
Almost 80% of milk sold by retailers is in plastic containers, with only about 11% of milk sold in glass bottles and the rest in cartons.
However, while getting milk delivered feels more environmentally friendly than picking up a plastic bottle at the supermarket, the case is not clear cut.
Milk bottles are made from HDPE and, along with clear PET drinks bottles, are very widely recyclable in the UK with 92% of local authorities collecting them.
Plastics recycling experts Recoup say that this has resulted in 35% of all plastic bottles discarded in the UK last year being recycled, compared with just 3% in 2001.
And whereas in the past, much of the HDPE from bottles was "downcycled" into lower-grade uses, the recent development of bottle-to-bottle processing plants means that recycled plastic (rHDPE) can now be used in new milk bottles.
Marks and Spencer trialled the use of 10% rHDPE in its four litre bottles of organic milk in 2006 and plans to increase that to 50% recycled material across all its milk range.
Packaging giant Nampak says it expects to have 30% rHDPE bottles in production in 2009.
And Defra in its Milk Roadmap (yes, really) has set targets for all milk bottles to have 50% recycled content by 2020.
Furthermore, the tall wire cages, or "roll containers", on which milk bottles are stacked in supermarkets mean the bottles can be transported directly from processing plant to store with no extra packaging.
It is even possible to buy milk in a bag which cuts packaging further.
However, the big advantage to glass bottles is that they can be rinsed, sterilised and reused almost instantaneously, rather than having to go through a lengthy recycling process.
Dairy Crest, which will be making my delivery, say their bottles are reused a minimum of 20 times before being crushed and used as hardcore.
The biggest question remains however: will my pintas be safe from the scourge of milk drinkers - the blue tit? I'll keep you posted.
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