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Crying over spilt milk

milk waste

WRAP’s recent report Opportunities to Reduce Waste along the Journey of Milk, from Dairy to Home[6] highlights the scale of milk wastes across the food chain; 330,000 tonnes of milk are lost each year, equivalent to 7% of UK production and worth more than £150m.

Milk waste in the home is by far the largest contributor, accounting for nearly 90% of UK milk waste with 290,000 tonnes thrown away every year. This equates to eighteen and a half pints per household. Milk waste in the supply chain, through breakages and leaks during transportation and in retail outlets, represents 30,000 tonnes, with an additional 13,000 tonnes of waste identified during processing.

The report identifies key actions that could help reduce milk waste by an estimated 90,000 tonnes per year, offering a potential combined saving of up to £40m. Actions are required across the entire value chain through processing, transportation, retail and in consumers’ homes.

Strategies for reducing milk waste in the home focus on storing milk at the correct temperature (0-5°C) and include encouraging consumers to check the temperatures of their fridges, the use of temperature sensitive labels on milk, extending the use of the Little Blue Fridge icon, with the message ‘keep in the fridge below 5°C’, increasing freezing and improving shelf life.

The most significant waste identified during milk processing arises from separating cream from milk, which produces a material known as ‘separator desludge’. This is usually sent straight to drain, but WRAP believes this is a potentially rich resource with high nutrient value proteins. Further processing into materials suitable for food, or animal feed applications could reduce waste by an estimated 10,000 tonnes and cut disposal costs by around £1m a year.

Other practical interventions to avoid milk waste in depots and retail stores include reviewing bottle design and specifications to avoid breakages and leaks, which are the major causes of waste at this stage of the product journey.

WRAP will work with the sector through the Courtauld 2025 Dairy Working Group to help ensure the recommendations are implemented and plans to track improvements and innovations to pack design and labelling over time through its Retail Survey. Progress will also be reported as part of a new target within The Dairy Roadmap – to increase product and packaging design features that help prevent consumer food waste.



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