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Müller to drive down plastic use by acquiring milk packaging plants

By James Pugh | Market Drayton | Business | Published:

Dairy giant Müller has confirmed its intention to acquire the capability to manufacture its own fresh milk packaging in the UK.

The multi-million pound move will give the business, which has a major site in Market Drayton, the means to further accelerate reduction in the use of plastic and increase the use of recycled plastic in its bottles to its target of 50 per cent by 2020.

It comes after Sir David Attenborough called for the world to cut back on its use of plastic in order to protect the oceans.

His recent BBC TV series, Blue Planet II, demonstrated the damage the material is causing to marine life.

Plastic bottles used for Müller's branded and private label fresh milk products are already 100 per cent recyclable.

Müller said it will also use its newly acquired assets to pursue innovative new packaging solutions, working in partnership with its customers.

Acquisitions of bottle manufacturing plants owned by Nampak - adjacent to Müller's dairies at Bellshill and Manchester - have already concluded and Müller is in advanced negotiations to purchase Nampak's bottle manufacturing assets adjacent to its Foston and Severnside dairies, with a view to completion of these transactions in October 2018 and autumn 2019 respectively, when current supply contracts expire.

On completion, the Severnside bottle manufacturing plant will then benefit from substantial investment from Müller to ensure that it has state of the art capabilities and flexibility.

Jobs are not impacted by these moves, with affected employees able to transfer across to Müller.

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Andrew McInnes, Müller Milk & Ingredients managing director, said: "We are clear about the need to drive down the use of plastic and have worked with our suppliers to remove 10,000 tonnes from our milk bottles since 2016. We are also actively increasing the use of recycled plastic and seeking significantly higher levels of sustainable packaging innovation.

"With these acquisitions we are changing our operating model to gain greater control and agility to ensure that our packaging is fit-for-purpose, recyclable and evolving to meet rapidly changing customer and consumer needs.

"Ownership of packaging assets immediately adjacent to our dairies gives us a significant advantage in our sector. Rather than being reliant on third party manufacturers or having to purchase and transport empty packaging from remote manufacturing facilities to our dairies, we will have the ability to make milk bottles in our own plants to our specification and pass them straight to our filling lines."

Müller said it is continually reviewing packaging materials used throughout its UK operations to ensure that they are fit for purpose and can be recycled wherever possible. The business supports the Government's plans for a circular economy and is working actively with WRAP to achieve greater resource efficiencies.

Shropshire-based water business Wenlock Spring recently announced it is switching to bottles made with 50 per cent recycled plastic content as it aims to help tackle the global issue with recycling plastics.

It said it was introducing change before political policy, taxes or green incentives make such measures compulsory.

James Pugh

By James Pugh
@JamesP_Star

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.

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