Since the average plastic bottle takes 500 years to decompose, more solutions to this rapidly growing landfill crisis are needed, quickly.
An English inventor has come up with a sturdy papier-mache bottle that can be recycled or composted. Local Suffolk dairies are trying it out and now Asda (Walmart) is putting it in some of their stores. So how does it work...
The GreenBottle is made out of papier-mache and has a plastic liner inside to keep the milk fresh. The paper outer shell is compostable and biodegradable. It will break down naturally when disposed of on a compost heap and can be recycled up to seven times. On the compost heap, it will only take a few weeks to decompose.
The inner liner is made of recycled plastic. It can be recycled along with other plastics in the weekly recycling collection. It takes up less than 0.5% of the space of a plastic bottle if dumped in a landfill.
The GreenBottle consumes a third of the energy used to make a plastic bottle and has a carbon footprint that is 48% lower than plastic.
The inventor, Martin Myerscough, was inspired by a discussion at the pub, where else, with the operator of the local landfill site. Learning about the huge amounts of plastic waste accumulating there, he started thinking. An engineer by training, he made the first templates out of paper waste from his office. Now he is collecting waste paper from big companies, like Carphone Warehouse, which is handing over one million tons a month.
It's such a great success story so far... Myerscough approached Marybelle, a local dairy, and they were delighted with the concept. Since the paper bottle is the same shape as the regular 2 litre plastic one, it was not a huge change for them to carry it. Then Asda (Walmart in the UK) agreed to take 250 bottles and they sold out each day. Now they are taking 1,000 a week in the Cornwall area.
It's not perfect: the paper cases are currently made in Turkey. They are expensive, but if the take-up improves, the price will decrease. Plastic pouches with the reusable pitcher are more environmental but have never caught on here, as they have in Canada and the USA. They are hard to find and people don't seem to like them.
Here's their new milk truck, delivering to local cafes and serving green milk shakes for publicity. No word on whether the truck is electric.