Best in glass – can the return of the milkround help squash our plastic problem?

Just before dawn breaks, as a blackbird sings in the drizzle, I join third-generation milkman, Stuart Bruckner, 42, on the last leg of his Devon milkround. I have never met him before, but three times a week he delivers my four pints of red-top semi-skimmed under the cover of darkness in time for my breakfast. It gives me great joy to pop my empty glass bottles back on the doorstep to be used again. Since the recent increased public dismay about plastic pollution, more people have signed up to doorstep deliveries to get plastic-free milk. Milk deliveries around the country are up nearly 5% year on year in the UK. How is this sudden burst of interest affecting dairy businesses around the country?

“Business has gone crazy these last couple of weeks,” says Bruckner, who believes BBC’s Blue Planet II has helped spark the revival. “On average, nine new customers are signing up daily,” he adds. “Interestingly, it’s a younger demographic of customers calling up. More families and couples in their 30s and 40s are putting orders in specifically for milk in glass.”

o, should we all cut out the plastic two-pinter out from the weekly shop and give the local milkman a call?

Milk doorstep deliveries have been in steady decline over the past 20 years. Back in 1975, 94% UK milk was delivered in glass bottles, but by 2016 that had decreased to just 3%. Bruckner admits that he and his brother, Sam, who run Dartmouth Dairy with their mother, Joy, have often wondered whether to continue using glass. “We can’t compete with supermarkets, but we have always just stuck with what we know,” he says. “Now, we’re so glad we did. Hopefully, this is a real opportunity for traditional milkmen to make a comeback. We’re looking at putting on extra delivery days and, if business continues like this, we will need to employ new milkmen.”

Bruckner began his shift at 11pm. “I started doing milkrounds with my dad when I was 10 and he gave us a strong work ethic,” he tells me. “It’s a weird and wonderful job – it can be awkward, unsociable and tiring. We’ve witnessed crimes, been the first to discover car accidents, and I found a customer lying injured from a fall when I noticed his milk hadn’t moved since my previous delivery.”


For more read the full of article at The Guardian

Facebook Comments