Conscientious dairy farmers are hoping for a new generation of environmentally friendly packaging—without the specter of GMOs.
Packaging is a by-product of the dairy industry which poses a problem. In the United States alone, there are more than 20 gallons of milk produced per person each year. The majority of that milk is delivered in regular boxed cartons. From an environmental point of view this is a problem because the paper-plastic composition used is not suitable for recycling.
Many independent dairy farms have, therefore, explored various alternatives. The family-run Straus dairy farm in California is one example. They opt to package their milk in glass bottles. These have a small deposit which is refunded once the cleaned bottle is returned. The company is able to reuse each bottle an average of eight times, and report that 95% of all bottles sold are returned.
For larger quantities they still use plastic containers as the glass equivalent is too heavy and easily broken to be practical for families. There is a trade-off—plastic weighs 37% less than glass, so saves fuel during the trip from the creamery to stores.
But the search continues for the perfect kind of biodegradable plastic material which could handle a perishable product. The existing materials which come closest to ticking all the boxes are the product of genetically engineered corn, something which many organic dairy farms will not use.
Straus Family Creamery currently battles with this dilemma of trying to find alternative plastic packaging for their heavier products. They absolutely oppose the use of GMOs in any form—including food packaging, utensils, as well as for food crops or seeds.