The humble pinta is making a comeback.
And in Kirklees the council is championing the return of the early morning doorstep delivery as more and more people turn their backs on one-use plastic in favour of glass milk bottles that can be returned, cleaned and re-used.
One local milkman, Tim Woodcock, said the change in attitude can be traced back to the 2001 TV documentary series The Blue Planet and its 2017 follow-up, which delivered a stark environmental message about the global impact of plastics.
And he revealed that on a weekly delivery route that takes in Mirfield, Roberttown, Norristhorpe and Hartshead, 90% of his 700 deliveries are in glass bottles.
The movement comes as Kirklees struggles to match its neighbour’s recycling rates.
In the most recent list of UK local authorities’ household waste recycling, composting and re-use rates Kirklees comes a poor 310th out of 350 councils, recycling just 30.1%.
Neighbouring Calderdale is listed at 85th with 49.7%. The national average is about 40%. The statistics appear on the website letsrecycle.com
Kirklees Council is in the process of delivering a new waste strategy with the aim of increasing the authority’s recycling rates. It will encourage residents to “re-use things they usually throw away”. One key point promotes the traditional doorstep delivery as “the milkman helps us to minimise plastic bottle waste”.
A 20-year veteran of early morning deliveries, Mirfield milkman Tim has experienced an uplift in households wanting daily deliveries in glass bottles rather than polyethylene containers.
The small amount of plastic he does carry is mainly delivered to shops, cafes and restaurants
“On the doorstep it’s nearly all glass,” he said. “If I drop off plastic I get complaints. Folk believe milk tastes better out of a bottle.”
Mr Woodcock said milk bottle deliveries dropped some years ago as older customers died off and demand for the traditional pinta fell.
But in recent years he has witnessed a resurgence, with millennials embracing the doorstep delivery. Currently he delivers 2,500 bottles every week.
And industry body Dairy UK report that bottled milk deliveries have risen to about one million, up a quarter in the last two years.
And against the one-use plastic alternative, a glass bottle can be used on average around 20 times.
“It levelled out a few years ago,” said Mr Woodcock. “We do get new customers that are at the younger end. Sometimes it’s because they are starting a family and they want to give their kids the fresh milk that they used to have. But the bulk of our customers are at the older end.”
Mr Woodcock, 55, said whilst there was a definite nostalgia aspect to glass bottles the impact of environmental awareness should not be ignored.
And he urged Kirklees and other councils to consider returning to one-third pint glass bottles in schools rather than cardboard or plastic cartons.
“Kirklees put it out there for folk to tender. As a council how can they justify delivering hundreds of cartons to schools every day? I’m surprised they let that go on.”
Mr Woodcock is listed on the website findmeamilkman.net as one of two milkmen who are close to the Bradley postcode of the Huddersfield Examiner. The other is in Drighlington, which has a Bradford postcode.
Kirklees is also embracing electric technology, which could lead to the revival of the electric milk float. Mr Woodcock gave the notion the thumbs-up.
“The old-fashioned electric floats have died a death. I’ve never used one in 20 years. I don’t know anyone who has. I use a diesel van with a float body on it. That’s been the only option.
“One of our major costs is fuel. If the day comes when electric vans are available, I would be up for it.”