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A new jug ships clean
June 30, 2008 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Wal-mart/Sam's Club and Costco are in the process of switching to a re-designed milk jug.

Although the new design may take a while to get used to, the ecological benefits are fairly clear - the new design is cheaper to ship and fill, and doesn't require milk crates, thereby saving fuel, water, and labor. Of course, some will ask why we should use plastic jugs at all. After all, what's wrong with bags, or cardboard, glass?
posted by dirtdirt (196 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Costco near us in Pentagon City, VA has already been switched to this design for at least several weeks. The first time I poured from it I spilled a bit, but I learned. Fits handily in the fridge, too. A++, would drink again.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:58 PM on June 30, 2008


A shopper named Jodi Kauffman gave the alien jugs a sidelong glance.
This line could have come from a much more interesting story.
posted by nowonmai at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [124 favorites]


So, can we not design a jug that is cheaper to fill and ship but can be used to pour without spilling?

Oh, I get it. Spill milk, buy more. Profit!
posted by konolia at 12:59 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Huh. Costco's had this type of jug for at least two years where I live. I wonder why the article is touting these bottles as new?
posted by Stewriffic at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2008


Good, this means more abandoned milkcrates, which means more furniture for me!
posted by fuq at 1:00 PM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


I love these new milk bottles. It means more room in the fridge for orange juice, lemonade, pomegranate juice, etc...
posted by infinitewindow at 1:03 PM on June 30, 2008


The new design appeared about two weeks ago at Costco in Hillsboro, OR. They're hard for the kids to use, but we haven't tried this tip-and-pour technique. That's good to know.
posted by Loudmax at 1:08 PM on June 30, 2008


a prototype of this system

another article
posted by pyramid termite at 1:15 PM on June 30, 2008


A shopper named Jodi Kauffman gave the alien jugs a sidelong glance.

Hands up, who immediately thought of Total Recall?
posted by Greg Nog at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


It's a good thing I have an engineering degree, or else I might be utterly confounded by a jug containing milk.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I hate kids and want the most technically efficient packaging possible, so yey.

I hear the Canadians get their milk in bags...? Like a plastic bladder of some sort? Even more space-efficient!
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2008


(raises hand)
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2008


The Costco here has had these milk jugs for over two years as well. I haven't noticed them being any more difficult to pour with.
posted by Comrade_robot at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2008


I know that improving the environment and using less resources takes sacrifices, but spilling milk a few times before I figure out how to pour from a new container? I don't know. Won't the whole last remnants of the human race living on floating barges powered by sewage and resorting to cannibalism happen after I'm dead? If so then I would rather just stick to my normal milk carton thank you very much.
posted by ND¢ at 1:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am still pining for opaque milk jugs. It's a pipedream.
posted by prosthezis at 1:20 PM on June 30, 2008


Now with more yummy rBGH per ft3!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:21 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why’s it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?

Waaaaaaaahhhh!!! I used to be with it, then they changed what it was. Now what was it isn't it, and what is it is weird and scary to me. It'll happen to you too!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:22 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


cowbellmoo(!): Yep, in Canada you can get bags, cartons, or jugs -- all plastic. The bags are chemically leechy and usually not recyclable, plus they actually take up crazy amounts of fridge real estate since they lay flat & stuff.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:24 PM on June 30, 2008


I think Structura needs to get a refund for that logo. And website, I guess.
posted by puke & cry at 1:25 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Milk belongs in bottles.
Brought fresh and creamy by the Milkman.
Case closed.
posted by Dizzy at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2008


Dang. I hoped this meant they were finally making milk containers of an opaque, non-chemical-leaking substance.

Although now I understand why folks on another list were grumping about their new milk cartons being kid-unfriendly, so that's something.
posted by batmonkey at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2008


You know, I used to want a soda dispenser in my kitchen. Lately I've been thinking back to the big industrial milk dispensers they used in my residence hall cafeteria, loaded up with big bags of milk. I never understood why it was necessary to have a big steel ball you had to push forward to open the flow on those things. Was this some vestigial pre-industrial milk dispenser design? Why not just the little black crescent you push with your glass, like at the soda machine? Sometimes I think the old ways are just stupid.

I'm Andy Rooney, for 60 Minutes.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


I just don't drink the poison. Problem solved!
posted by jimmythefish at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am still pining for opaque milk jugs. It's a pipedream.
Oh, 10-15 years ago we had those, buttermilk yellow colored (at least in VA and NC), and they went over not very well apparently.
posted by dawson at 1:27 PM on June 30, 2008


“It’s very hard for kids to pour,” said Lee Morris, who was shopping for her grandchildren.

Were gallon milk jugs ever easy for kids to pour, or was I just an exceptionally weak and clumsy child?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Mary Tilton tried to educate the public a few days ago as she stood at a Sam’s Club

Good lord we are doomed. Grown adults need to be 'educated' on pouring a freakin glass of milk? Take it home and figure it out!
posted by spicynuts at 1:31 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Interesting design for those milk jugs; there's no compromise of geometric efficiency for ergonomics. I wonder if milk jug 2.1 is being put through usability testing right now...
posted by anthill at 1:31 PM on June 30, 2008


Although the new design may take a while to get used to, the ecological benefits are fairly clear - the new design is cheaper to ship and fill, and doesn't require milk crates, thereby saving fuel, water, and labor.

Funny, although the article states that these are better for the environment multiple times in the same breath as it mentions increased efficiency of shipping, I'm not really seeing how it's a clear net benefit in environmental terms. This is simply more efficient to handle, store, and ship. And I'm not knocking that-- using less fuel is important-- but it's likely that this is a drop in the pan compared to the kinds of practices these dairy farms are using to produce milk for sale to Wal-Mart. Since Wal-Mart demands that they sell at very low prices, it usually means big ecological footprints from those dairy farms to make that happen. Not to mention, even when your milk jug says #1 or #2, plastic recycling is still not what it's marketed as. That plastic is usually going to make plastic lumber, if you can even recycle it in your area.

In other words, Wal-Mart continues to do what Wal-Mart does best: cut costs. Only now Wal-Mart's attention is focused on using less fuel for shipping. That's good, but it is not the big environmental plus Wal-Mart is making it out to be.

The biggest development in sustainability as far as consumer packaging goes in awhile happened this week. It's not this milk jug. It's this recycling plant's opening. Again, it doesn't make plastics good, but it is a big step toward making them less of an environmental headache.
posted by Tehanu at 1:32 PM on June 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


Palletisation has been enhanced for your convenience!
posted by Artw at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can get orange juice in nice cardboard cartons. Why can't I get milk like that?
posted by Caduceus at 1:34 PM on June 30, 2008


dawson, I was going to mention those (from Coble Dairy in Salisbury and Lexington, NC). I loved 'em, my family loved 'em, my summer camp in Blowing Rock loved 'em, and I still miss 'em.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2008


Why did they change my milk?!?! I want my old milk!!! Where's my old milk?!?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2008


Sys Rq, the milk bags when laid flat can take up otherwise wasted space (like the space under my meat storage bin), or you can get organizers to stack the bags efficiently.
posted by maudlin at 1:35 PM on June 30, 2008


and doesn't require milk crates

OMG, is this the beginning of the end of milk crates? You mean one day I might have to buy furniture?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2008


Why not just the little black crescent you push with your glass, like at the soda machine?

because that little black crescent opens up the valve to the co2 tank that's hidden where you can't see it and causes the syrup water and co2 to get all mixed together

that system won't work with milk
posted by pyramid termite at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2008


Most importantly, how difficult is it to drink from? Because at 3am when I'm staggering half-awake through the kitchen in search of something tasty, I don't want to dump chocolate milk all over myself.
posted by quin at 1:36 PM on June 30, 2008


I can get orange juice in nice cardboard cartons. Why can't I get milk like that?

Go for it!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2008


*spills milk* *cries*
posted by yeti at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


New Milk Carton!!!

... and no snark intended, but I couldn't resist...


Pepsi Moo?
posted by Debaser626 at 1:37 PM on June 30, 2008


It may not be fantastic for the environment, Tehanu, but significantly fewer trips by truck, saving fuel and carbon emissions, and the huge water savings (60-70%) since they no longer have to wash down the shipping crates is actually a gain for the environment over the old methods. Of course they still have a long way to go.
My parents drink a lot of milk, and they buy it in bags. I have to admit its not very space-efficient. Had no idea about the leeching issue. However, cleaned out milk bags have been a family re-use staple for all kinds of storage, since those bags are tough.
posted by sandraregina at 1:41 PM on June 30, 2008


There, there. No use crying over that, yeti.

*shoots a how-to video of herself effortlessly pouring milk from a Walmart jug, puts it up on YouTube, makes bazillions of dollars in ad revenue*
posted by iconomy at 1:41 PM on June 30, 2008


What's really interesting is the abrogation of consumer choice. Simultaneous rollout in several major grocery chains? Can't the market decide which is the better milk jugs, eh, Wal-Mart & co? I thought the market was great at that kind of decision.
posted by WPW at 1:43 PM on June 30, 2008


Oh, and speaking as a former grocery clerk, the bags are a real bunch of jerks. They have a tendency to slip and slide against each other, constantly slumping off their little shelf. And always--like every day--there's at least one bag that gets a little too friendly with a metal shopping cart and ends up spurting its passion potion contents all over the floor, which some underpaid individual then has to mop up.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:43 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


‘Why’s it in a square jug? Why’s it different? I want the same milk. What happened to my old milk?’

We live in a nation of weenies.

IT'S THE SAME MILK, YOU FUCKING TWIT!

MORONS! MORONS!

I need a drink.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:45 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Looking at the design closer, I'm guessing that what happens is that three factors combine:
  1. the weight of a full gallon jug
  2. the high fill line and corresponding low pour angle
  3. the lack of taper or set-back at the mouth
When the jug is full, #1 causes an unsteady and timid pour, especially in kids. With a wimpy pour, #2 causes the milk to cling to the jug mouth and spill down the side of the jug. These two are aggravated by #3 as it's hard to tuck the jug against the edge of a cup so as to catch the dribble.

The demonstrator lady at Sam's club is cheating: after the first few cups, problems 1 and 2 go away.
posted by anthill at 1:46 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm lactose container intolerant.
posted by aftermarketradio at 1:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Rumour has that Walmart is about to introduce a new logo. It has been called a starburst, but it kinda looks like something else, no?
posted by R. Mutt at 1:48 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I also wonder: why did they put such an enormous mouth on the jug? Maybe they saw how successful gatorade and widemouth beer cans have been, and are opening the door for a new marketing campaign: 'gallon milk jugs... chug em'.

(more likely, the answer is 'because it didn't compromise the volumetric efficiency')
posted by anthill at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2008


I got these once at Costco a year or two ago. The big problem with them is, once you figure out the pour, the constant dribble of milk you have to wipe off the side every time you use them because they don't pour cleanly.
posted by internal at 1:49 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't the market decide which is the better milk jugs, eh, Wal-Mart & co?

the market is the individual dairies who are paying for the jugs and the filler machines to fill them - they're the ones who are paying the shipping costs and selecting the vendors who are going to provide them with containers and machines to fill them - if it's any consolation, not every dairy is going to be able to (or want to) switch to this set up
posted by pyramid termite at 1:50 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I need a drink.

Want me to help you pour from that jug? It's really hard to do unless you know how.
posted by iconomy at 1:50 PM on June 30, 2008


Hopkin green milk.
posted by docpops at 1:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw "new" and "Wal-Mart" and thought this post was going to be about the new logo.
posted by evilcolonel at 1:52 PM on June 30, 2008


Also, the set-jug-on-table-and-tilt trick is probably a way of tackling problem #1. If you don't have to support the 10lb of milk with your arm, you'll probably tend to pour more confidently/aggressively.

Of course all those that post on metafilter pour their milk so hard, it begs to be let back in the jug.
posted by anthill at 1:53 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


But does it come with vellocet or dencrom?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:53 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I wonder if I could trademark, "Pour With Care"
posted by notreally at 1:53 PM on June 30, 2008


So... would have it been utterly (must resist...) impossible to, oh I dunno, make the opening somewhat tapered so the pour was more focused?

I don't drink milk anymore, but let me know when someone fucks up the heavy cream containers. I'll gut someone then.
posted by Talanvor at 1:55 PM on June 30, 2008


My first though upon seeing the new walmart logo, was that it reminded me of Kurt Vonnegut * drawing.
posted by R. Mutt at 1:56 PM on June 30, 2008


The bags are chemically leechy and usually not recyclable, plus they actually take up crazy amounts of fridge real estate since they lay flat & stuff.

Aw, nuts. We need to improve this bladder technology. The kids have their astronaut alcohol gel, why can't I have big Capri Sun milk pouches?

On hot days I would take em out of the fridge and stick em in ... nether areas ... to cool down.
posted by cowbellemoo at 1:56 PM on June 30, 2008


I wonder if I could trademark, "Pour With Care"

no, "nitroglycerin in a bottle" already trademarked that
posted by pyramid termite at 1:56 PM on June 30, 2008


What these jugs need is one of those little decanter stick dealies. And maybe a dribble bib.

PATENT PENDING
posted by Sys Rq at 1:57 PM on June 30, 2008


This is just a big Fuck You to missing kids everywhere.
posted by bondcliff at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [22 favorites]


I'm Canadian and live in the US now, and I miss milk bags. We used one of the two bottom crispers in the fridge to store them (the other crisper was used for veg), and bought three bags at a time. I think each bag held about a litre of milk. The outer bag that the three bags of milk came in was used - like grocery store bags - for bagging trash. The milk bags were turned inside out and washed in the dishwasher along with everything else, and then used as freezer bags. And when you threw them away, they took up almost no space unlike the gallon jugs which take up a third of my garbage bag here.

I also miss the tiny milk bag cutter, which was a fair substitute for scissors in most situations.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:59 PM on June 30, 2008


From Page 1 of the article: "Others, even those who rue the day their tried-and-true jugs were replaced, praised the lower cost, from $2.18 to $2.58 a gallon."

How is a 40 cent increase considered a cost lowering?
posted by aftermarketradio at 2:00 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last container innovation brought forth by a big-box store I can remember is the Target pharmacy bottles, which I happen to like.

Anyone else love or hate these little red bottles?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Strange reading about other Costcos already selling milk in these containers. Our local stores have been selling two packs of regular gallon jugs in a carton box for years. A waste of cardboard if you ask me.
posted by jaimev at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2008


> I never understood why it was necessary to have a big steel ball you had to push forward to open the flow on those things. Was this some vestigial pre-industrial milk dispenser design? Why not just the little black crescent you push with your glass, like at the soda machine? Sometimes I think the old ways are just stupid.

It's actually a pretty good design. Basically, the "bag" of milk that goes into the dispenser has a piece of flexible hose permanently connected to it. The hose gets threaded down through the bottom of the fridge chamber. Rather than having a true valve (like soda machines do), the heavy weight just pinches the flexible tubing closed. When you want milk, you put your glass underneath and lift up the big weight, un-pinching the hose, and letting the milk flow out.

It's advantageous because there's no valves or lines to clean and sanitize. When the bag'o'milk is empty, you pull it out, and with it the flexible tube. Then the new one goes in, with its own tube. You don't have to worry about contamination from the last bag of milk working its way into the next one.

It's a simple, elegant way of getting the job done. In fact, I can't really think of a better way of dispensing non-concentrate, non-mix liquids, that's equally low-maintenance and simple. The only reason you don't see the design used for other beverages besides milk is because most other beverages come in concentrate of mix form, and have to be created somewhere in the machine before being dispensed to you.

You couldn't use the same system for soda, because it typically comes as syrup and needs to be mixed with water and CO2, or pre-carbonated water, before being dispensed. Hence, you get a lot of complex valves and lines and mixing gear that has to be periodically flushed. Most Americans like carbonated beer, so it gets transported in kegs and also uses lines (if you wanted flat beer, you could probably get away with a milk-type bladder dispenser). Most juice comes from concentrate and thus doesn't get dispensed like milk — although I have seen real OJ dispensed that way a few times. You could use a milk dispenser for spring water, and I really don't know why they don't do it that way — I suppose water-jug type dispensers just have their own inertia.

Now you know!™
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:02 PM on June 30, 2008 [16 favorites]


Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots.
posted by ottereroticist at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


prosthezis: I remember Sam's Club (when I used to shop there) sold milk in opaque containers. They were shaped exactly like normal milk jugs, but were opaque white instead of the normal translucent.
posted by zsazsa at 2:03 PM on June 30, 2008


Anyone else love or hate these little red bottles?

My pills fall all over the floor!!!!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:10 PM on June 30, 2008


Good lord we are doomed. Grown adults need to be 'educated' on pouring a freakin glass of milk? Take it home and figure it out!

The doomification comes from engineers who redesign an existing, simple, successful and deep-rooted system without apparent concern for usage, thus necessitating education.

Yeah...consumers could take it home and figure it out. But why should they have to re-learn to pour a fucking glass of milk? The damn thing should pour perfectly fine without having to figure it out. One of the prime design parameters should have been to preserve (or improve!) the ease of use of the system the new carton is replacing. I suspect no one on the design team ever actually tried to use the thing when prototyping.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


NOWHERE does it say if this new jug is easier to drink from. I mean who uses a glass anymore?
posted by Gungho at 2:13 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


"What's really interesting is the abrogation of consumer choice. Simultaneous rollout in several major grocery chains? Can't the market decide which is the better milk jugs, eh, Wal-Mart & co? I thought the market was great at that kind of decision."

The market != Consumers.

"Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots."

Uh, pouring from milk jugs as they currently exist isn't coded into our DNA.
posted by klangklangston at 2:14 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Most emailed story on NYT and 73 posts here... about a milk carton.
posted by Zambrano at 2:18 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Costco here has also had these milk jugs for over two years as well. I also haven't noticed them being any more difficult to pour.
posted by Mick at 2:19 PM on June 30, 2008


Greg Nog: "Hands up, who immediately thought of Total Recall?"

Those weren't alien jugs, they were mutant jugs. Those with hands up, you all fail at nerd.
posted by Plutor at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


TRADITIONAL JUG: Plastic crates are reusable after being returned and washed.
NEW DESIGN: After single use, cardboard and shrink wrap are recycled.
IMPACT: No water is needed for washing, and no labor is needed to load and return the crates.
I'm sure these jugs are awesome, but this sloppy "analysis". Maybe recycling cardboard and shrink wrap causes less environmental impact than washing and transporting crates - but it isn't zero.
the ecological benefits are fairly clear - the new design is cheaper to ship and fill...
Wal-Mart is likely more concerned with the economic benefits. Which bothers me not at all.
posted by yath at 2:25 PM on June 30, 2008


In other words, Wal-Mart continues to do what Wal-Mart does best: cut costs. Only now Wal-Mart's attention is focused on using less fuel for shipping. That's good, but it is not the big environmental plus Wal-Mart is making it out to be.

Word.

I'm a big believer in the "triple bottom line," and it's a really good thing that businesses are catching on that reduced resource use translates into cost savings, which translates into increased shareholder gain and/or profit. But Wal-Mart is only embracing more environmentally friendly practices where it can save significantly - like on fuel and labor costs (the new package requires only half the labor time that the old ones, with crates, did). It is most definitely not values-driven, nor does it take into account the enormous overall environmental impact of their continued expansions and related outcomes. And they tend to leave out the "people" component of the triple bottom line with their labor practices and strong-arming of suppliers.

This 2007 paper from WalMart Watch notes that
if Wal-Mart continues to add stores at its current growth rate, its new stores alone will use significantly more energy than any of its energy saving measures will save....Wal-Mart needs a vast amount of space in order to build a store, and often this space comes in the form of open greenspace, acres and acres of which are paved over and covered by Wal-Mart’s single-story warehouse-like stores and accompanying massive parking lots. Built away from town centers, they often require services such as new sewer lines, plus more roads and increased driving to reach them. They use massive amounts of electricity, often running 24-hours a day, the increased light causing night-glare and disrupting surrounding plant and animal life....

there is evidence that all of the hard work Wal-Mart has done on environmental efficien-cies will be wiped out by the one thing most dear to the retailer: its customers. As Wal-Mart continues to expand, its in-store energy saving measures will be offset by the increase in the number of supercenters consuming electricity. Pushing suppliers on environmental performance, carrying efficient light bulbs, and selling organic foods will be offset by the continued increase in shopping-related vehicle miles and the resulting vehicle emissions and air quality degradation...
So, we still have a bit of an environmental problem with the WalMart business model.

In addition, knowing about WalMart's history of forcing would-be suppliers to meet their price, packaging and volume standards makes me concerned for the impact on dairy farmers who supply the stores. Once again, it looks like WalMart is using its heft to shape the suppliers' practices:
Wal-Mart now asks vendors to rate themselves on a "packaging scorecard" that measures such factors as the ratio of package size to product, whether the package uses recycled material and whether the package can be recycled or otherwise reused. The company is looking at a variety of packaging innovations...
And when they don't meet the price requirements or packaging demands, they'll find someone who does:
Horizon, which controls 55 percent of the organic dairy market, meets Wal-Mart's low price in part by providing appalling conditions for its cows. The Cornucopia Institute's Mark Kastel, first reached for this article as he was standing on Horizon's 4,000-cow Idaho feedlot, says the cows were "standing in 90-degree heat. No shade, no water. These animals are living very short lives."

...The Horizon/Wal-Mart alliance is potentially ominous for family-scale dairy farmers, because, as Kastel points out, "there's a shortage today, but a year from now," as producers rush to meet the demands of big retailers like Wal-Mart, "you could have a surplus." A milk surplus could erode the organic premium and drive many small organic dairy farmers into bankruptcy, just as it has wiped out many of their conventional neighbors. Organic farmers, especially in the Northeast, are already in a precarious situation because of high fuel, grain and transportation costs.

Travis Forgues, a second-generation farmer in Alburg, Vermont, the state's farthest-northwest town, milks eighty grass-fed cows. A 33-year-old father of three young children, he speaks for many small farmers when he says, "If we didn't have the organic market, my dad and I would have been out of here long ago." On the danger of a surplus fueled by demand from Wal-Mart and other big-box stores, Forgues says, "Anyone who's not worried about what's going to happen is crazy."
...then there's economically forced consolidation and further loss of small-scale, sustainable farms. And if American dairy farmers don't make that shift, heck, they can always go to India.
posted by Miko at 2:27 PM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


The last container innovation brought forth by a big-box store I can remember is the Target pharmacy bottles, which I happen to like.

Anyone else love or hate these little red bottles?


Having read the article, I can't say that's too exciting. Now, make a non-child-proof cap that doesn't fall open in my backpack on the way home, and then I'll be interested.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 2:35 PM on June 30, 2008


I don't think I've had milk in 30 years--certainly not a drink of it (I'm sure it's been baked into stuff I've eaten). I can't believe people still pour this stuff in a glass and drink it. It's nasty. WTF is wrong with you people?
posted by dobbs at 2:36 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cube cows!
posted by Artw at 2:36 PM on June 30, 2008


But Wal-Mart is only embracing more environmentally friendly practices where it can save significantly - like on fuel and labor costs (the new package requires only half the labor time that the old ones, with crates, did). It is most definitely not values-driven, nor does it take into account the enormous overall environmental impact of their continued expansions and related outcomes. And they tend to leave out the "people" component of the triple bottom line with their labor practices and strong-arming of suppliers.

Also by giving people what they want (low, low prices) delivered with a salve for their conscience (this new milk bottle is better for the environment!), they can pursue their single bottom line as ruthlessly as always with an added illusion that they've become more responsible in regard to one of the other two bottom lines.
posted by Tehanu at 2:36 PM on June 30, 2008


I'm all for anything that makes the plebes suspect they are retarded.
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:42 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots.

You ever seen a little kid with a jug of milk? You only think you didn't have to learn how to use the current jug because you were little when you learned it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:42 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those weren't alien jugs, they were mutant jugs. Those with hands up, you all fail at nerd.

I don't think it was even established whether the people in the martian slums were actually born there or not. So if they were they would be both aliens and mutants.
posted by puke & cry at 2:44 PM on June 30, 2008


It may not be fantastic for the environment, Tehanu, but significantly fewer trips by truck, saving fuel and carbon emissions, and the huge water savings (60-70%) since they no longer have to wash down the shipping crates is actually a gain for the environment over the old methods. Of course they still have a long way to go.

Let me put this another way. Wal-Mart is not just selling you milk. It is selling you the idea of milk made environmentally friendlier by slightly different packaging. Like the milk itself, that environmental benefit is real; however, like everything else Wal-Mart sells, it's quite easy to buy it, it was quite cheap to produce, and it's extremely difficult to measure the full and quite negative broader impacts of what they just sold you.
posted by Tehanu at 2:46 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


How's this for an idea: Without sacrificing their milk volumetric efficiency, they could fit a mini version of a laundry detergent no-spill spout in there. Milk won't spill, larger socio-environmental issues will remain unsolved.
posted by anthill at 2:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Lemmie get this strait - Walmart is again foisting it's evil, soulless, mega-capitalist hand into nature's last...wait, Costco is selling these things too? Well, hell, viva la milk carton revolucion!
posted by Muddler at 2:58 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


We have these at our Costco too. I don't really care about the pouring, but I have noticed that huge amounts of these milk containers seem to have a problem with leakage. Last time I was at the store buying milk, I picked up FOUR of these containers that were leaking from underneath the cap despite the fact that it does have those little safety lids. This isn't really an isolated incident, either. It's always covered in milk over there. Maybe it's something about the way the new container is designed that allows the safety paper to lift off the bottle more easily. I don't know, but I don't like.
posted by theantikitty at 3:12 PM on June 30, 2008


I want a new jug
One that won't make me spill
One that won't cost so much
Or end up in a landfill
posted by papercake at 3:12 PM on June 30, 2008 [8 favorites]


Why not just the little black crescent you push with your glass, like at the soda machine?

because that little black crescent opens up the valve to the co2 tank that's hidden where you can't see it and causes the syrup water and co2 to get all mixed together


Not so - my $20 coffee maker has a press-n-pour spigot of sorts, it just releases the stopper holding the coffee in the carafe. You just push your mug against it.

But more importantly - who the FUCK is drinking all this milk? Good christ, didn't we decide it was not necessary for kids, and if so, who are the freaks sucking all this shit down in such quantities?
posted by tristeza at 3:20 PM on June 30, 2008


Ach, I was only being facetious. But there's no reason a gallon milk jug can't be economic and easy to use. And even if there isn't, you can always decant.
posted by WPW at 3:20 PM on June 30, 2008


The doomification comes from engineers who redesign an existing, simple, successful and deep-rooted system without apparent concern for usage, thus necessitating education.

You're fucking kidding me right? Are you honestly trying to tell me that the populace is such a docile group of slavering, cross-eyed, fuckwits that a slight alteration to the container of a liquid requires re-training!? That's not to say that I don't necessarily disagree with that notion, but I've tried to be more optimistic as-of-late...

But really now... Give. Me. A. Break.

If this isn't proof that natural selection doesn't work anymore, I don't know what is. If you're too mentally deficient to figure out how to pour milk out of a jug, I honestly don't know how you lived long enough to dress yourself.

"It's hard for kids to pour."

Um, a big jug filled with liquid is heavy. What you're saying is "little kids have trouble lifting heavy things". I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

I honestly can't understand the confusion here. I've bought milk in every available container; cartons, jugs, and bags. There's no mystery; a basic (dare I say it, elementary level) grasp of physics should allow a simple "pouring experience".

The amount of examination and outrage I've seen expressed over this truly saddens me. What a nation of coddled fucking pussies. Right now I'm picturing a bunch of scared, lonely, adults having an Airplane-esque "drinking problem".
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:39 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


Sys Rq, leechy, how so? They're polyethylene, which is stable as can be.
posted by scruss at 3:41 PM on June 30, 2008


Well...

Oh.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:43 PM on June 30, 2008


Anyways, unless you're sucking your morning glass of milk directly from the udder, y'all aren't really in a position to complain. Also, I bet I could totally fit my balls in the mouth of one of those jugs. Any Yank MeFites up for FedExing me an empty?

Jesus! Where did that come from?
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:44 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, wait, I said leechy, not leachy. Maybe I meant they suck?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2008


("Spelled it wrong" is a valid defense against libel lawsuits, right?)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:47 PM on June 30, 2008


the big heavy weighted ball is just simple design. It is a very big bladder of milk, with a rubber tube that fits through a choke point, and the weighted ball is pinching the tube shut, lift the weight, the tube opens and the milk flows. When you replace the bladder, the tube goes with it, when put a new bladder in, you close the door, hold down the lever and cut the tube.

other push to open systems use a valve in a much more complicated system where you would have to somehow tap the bag so the milk can flow into the plumbing which stays in the fridge unit, and then there is valve that will have to open when you push it with a glass. All of this is much more complicated, would be much more complicated to clean, and with milk being a great platform for life (sugar, protein, water along with some bacteria) chances of something getting moldy and souring the whole system so you have to then remove the entire plumbing and wash it.

The current weighted lever design is very simple, works very well, and requires minimal maintenance. The biggest issue is not cutting the tube right and keeping the cooling system running.

Now a next step would be instead of a weight ball, they could use a servo motor to push the valve open (so it fails in an off mode) when you push the glass up against the sensor. But again, that adds a level of complexity for feature most people don't see as a problem.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:51 PM on June 30, 2008


who are the freaks sucking all this shit down in such quantities?

Um - I'm one. I realize I'm in the minority as far as world population goes, but I enjoy drinking milk. Is that so bad?
posted by wanderingmind at 3:52 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I enjoy drinking milk as well. Not a whole lot- quart a week, or less. Lots of health benefits to drinking milk.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:01 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


As an American myself I am absolutely ashamed that we are so terrified and resistant to change. The slightest little thing that comes along that requires a change in behavior and folks seem to go ballistic. The other thing that comes to mind is replacing dollar bills with coins. I think at the heart this is because it seems to be worth more when it is a note, when coins are all of lesser value. Well, get used to it, a dollar is not worth much anymore, and just wait for the future to drop it off a cliff. I'll bet $20 coins by 2020 is at least even money. If the rest of us are going to survive, there had better be a massive dieoff of people that cannot handle change. Or there will just be a massive dieoff period.
posted by ackptui at 4:07 PM on June 30, 2008


Lots of health benefits to drinking milk.

free antibiotics!
posted by Artw at 4:09 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


So if people are fussy about the new containers, why can't they just sell/give away a little spout that affixes to the top? You don't have to put it on the jug when shipping, so problem solved on that front, but it fixes the problem on the consumer end.
posted by neckro23 at 4:12 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


This a simply a small step in the right direction, which is to begin packaging our precious foodstuffs in space filling solids. This new jug more closely approximates a parallelepiped than the old design, thus permitting vertical stacking. But a parallelepiped is not a regular solid. Currently, Toblerone chocolate is packaged in triangular prisms, and I've purchased Mexican chocolate packaged in a hexagonal prism. In the future, I hope to see milk packaged in truncated octahedrons and eventually into the glorious Johnson Solid #26, the gyrobifastigium.

Certain combinations of regular solids fill space. A one to one ratio of Johnson solid number one, the square pyramid, plus the Platonic tetrahedron also fill space regularly. I'm thinking the Johnson solid could be filled with pressurized American cheese spread, while the Platonic solid would be stuffed with crackers.
posted by Tube at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


i may have missed it, but what are these new jugs made of?

also, WHY is the handle so close to the top? of course it's hard to pour!!! if it were closer to the bottom there'd be a better center of gravity when pouring and.....YOU WOULDN'T SPILL AS MUCH MILK.



i have this same handle placement gripe with my laundry baskets.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:29 PM on June 30, 2008


Here's an idea: STOP SHOPPING AT FUCKING WAL*MART, YOU FAT FUCKING COWS. Really, it's faster to just send all your money to China, though not by much.

Those ghosts knocking at your door? It's mom and pop, saying: "Remember when you could walk on down to our store? Didn't cost you any gas money to buy regular old jugs of milk." It's because you were driving to WAL*MART in the first place that fuel costs have now mandated these new milk containers.
posted by Eideteker at 4:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [10 favorites]


Anyone else love or hate these little red bottles?

Love and hate. They're great because the labels are easily read, but if you don't screw the cap on all the way, when you pick them up next time, the pills will spill out. Bottles should be able to provide their basic function with or without their lids, and the target bottle require lids to function at all, so fail.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:57 PM on June 30, 2008


Wow, lots of folks think the complainers are just irrational nostalgic morons who can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

Now I've never held one of these new milk jugs, but I'd bet that I could put together a bunch of objective quantitative engineering tests to find out if they're objectively worse for end users. In the mean time, Neckro's idea isn't bad, and I'm sure we'll see something like that in the next few months if the roll-out goes as planned (which it will).

The jug isn't a bad design, I admire how it is better in every way for the milk producers (cows excepted), transporters, and retailers. The thing that bugs me is that consumers are bearing the real costs of the poorer aspects of the design, namely wasted product (milk they spill), and time (to clean up spilled milk, cry, etc.).

Designers are like advertisers: rarely working in the public service.
posted by anthill at 5:00 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The jug isn't a bad design, I admire how it is better in every way for the milk producers (cows excepted), transporters, and retailers. The thing that bugs me is that consumers are bearing the real costs of the poorer aspects of the design, namely wasted product (milk they spill), and time (to clean up spilled milk, cry, etc.).

You're correct, it isn't a bad design, it's a frigging dreadful design. How can you say it's not a bad design when in the very next sentence you recognize it doesn't serve the people who ultimately have to use it?

I like hearing about how mundane consumer products are redesigned in a more thoughtful manner, like the Target medicine bottles. But with these milk jugs, they're optimizing shipping efficiency without any thought to the consumer. I don't mind a redesign, I just wish it hadn't been weighted so heavily in favor of sheer logistics.
posted by Brian James at 5:12 PM on June 30, 2008


I FUCKING HATE THIS JUG
IMPOSSIBLE TO POUR
SPILLS MILK EVERYWHERE
UGH
WHY DO THEY MESS UP STUFF THAT WORKS FINE
WHY
posted by Jacqueline at 5:15 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you people are really overthinking this one. Again.
posted by Big_B at 5:15 PM on June 30, 2008


I haven't actually handled one of these new ones but I suspect they are as easy (or as hard) to use, from a physical standpoint, as the old ones. The reason most people are so comfortable with the old-timey jugs is not because those jugs are some sort of paradigm of ergonomic industrial design - it's because we've been using the crappy things for 30 years.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:19 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's an idea: STOP SHOPPING AT FUCKING WAL*MART, YOU FAT FUCKING COWS.

I demand to know your waistline.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:31 PM on June 30, 2008


Those ghosts knocking at your door? It's mom and pop, saying: "Remember when you could walk on down to our store? Didn't cost you any gas money to buy regular old jugs of milk." It's because you were driving to WAL*MART in the first place that fuel costs have now mandated these new milk containers.

For lots of people, including myself, this has never been true. Unless you count Safeway as a mom and pop store.
posted by meowzilla at 5:36 PM on June 30, 2008


Since Hurricane Wilma, I've been buying ultra pasteurized UHT milk, which comes in sealed cartons that don't need refrigeration until they're opened. You can't tell the difference - it tastes exactly the same and it's so much more convenient.

I always keep an extra carton, so I never run out. It can be kept for months unopend, but you have to use it within a week after opening it. When I get back from a trip, I don't have to run out and get milk - I have a fresh unopened carton I put in the refrigerator before I left.
posted by mike3k at 5:42 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I worked at WAL*MART for a summer. Check this out:

A) Required computer training sessions teaching employees the noble company history, how much WAL*MART "cares," and how to avoid union organizers.
B) Fascist approach to the 8 hours in a day, one hour lunch, 40 hours in a week clock in/ clock out system. Fascist as in you needed to be within 5 minutes over the course of the week.
C) Weekly staff meetings ending with the WAL*MART company cheer.

Basically anyone who shops there deserves to be spilled on. That place should have been created in Nazi Germany.
posted by Parallax.Error at 5:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems this story just documented the elimination of the concept of the return item in empty trucks (although the crates were apparently empty anyway). One more step away from a returnable universal container for all liquids and sauces. In fairness, though, the idea of returning a bottle to the factory was never any good. It was best conceived as a wide mouth container to fill at a store from bulk containers, allowing the customer to have it, clean it and to own the larger tote it was carried in.
posted by Brian B. at 6:04 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you people are really overthinking this one. Again. --Big_B

HI I'M ON METAFILTER AND I COULD OVERTHINK A GLASS OF BEANS.
posted by Bugg at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mary Tilton tried to educate the public a few days ago . . . luring shoppers with chocolate chip cookies and milk as she showed them how to pour from the new jugs . . . “Just tilt it slowly and pour slowly”

dead god i hate my country
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:19 PM on June 30, 2008


Oh but also count me in as one of the freaks who loves milk and thinks we should be drinking it instead of diet soda and regular soda and "vitamin water" and Crystal Light and all that other fake shit people love.

Let do a caloric breakdown of 1% milk: 44% carbs, 21% fat, 35% protein. That's fucking amazing. Plus don't forget the tons of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. You could more or less live on the stuff, and anyone who enjoys soda or beer who also looks down on milk is completely mental. Worried about rBGH or antibotics? Buy the slightly more expensive stuff from a local source, which you should be doing anyway. Problem fucking solved.

damn milk is awesome

damn
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:35 PM on June 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not so - my $20 coffee maker has a press-n-pour spigot of sorts

that's nice - i was describing how a soda machine works, not a $20 coffee maker
posted by pyramid termite at 6:39 PM on June 30, 2008


"I demand to know your waistline."

Let x represent EIDETEKER.

x ∈ (Fat(x) ∨ Cows(x)) ¬ (Fat(x) ∧ Cows(x))

or, in set notation:

{x ∈ Fat ∪ Cows, x ∉ Fat ∩ Cows}

I've probably bolloxed that right up. It's remarkably hard to find a place on the internet that will walk you through either notation. I couldn't even find a single wikipedia page that listed all the symbols and their meanings. Internets has failed me!
posted by Eideteker at 6:40 PM on June 30, 2008


A local dairy went back to using glass.

Intellectually, I know that clear glass probably isn't the optimum way to go (even ignoring the shipping aspect entirely) ... but it still tastes udderly wonderful.
posted by RavinDave at 6:48 PM on June 30, 2008


I remember my mom taking me shopping at the department store near the center of our small town in northern New York state when I was a kid. It was a respected institution, and its crowning achievement (in my eyes) was a pneumatic tube system with which a cashier could send money or a credit card slip (in a canister) to a centralized location, from which a receipt would come shooping back, via the same mechanism.

The department store is long gone, and the various college bars around downtown fail miserably to make up for it.

Forget about these stupid milk jugs, and fuck Wal-Mart. I want my childhood back!
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:49 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can get orange juice in nice cardboard cartons. Why can't I get milk like that?

In Japan at least, all milk is in one liter cardboard cartons. Most Japanese would be amazed at the size of North American milk jugs. And there's not really room for one in many (most?) medium-sized Japanese fridges. People drink plenty of milk, but they also go shopping once or twice a week, compared with once or twice a month in the U.S.
posted by zardoz at 6:50 PM on June 30, 2008


The redesign of the gallon milk jug, experts say, is an example of the changes likely to play out in the American economy over the next two decades. In an era of soaring global demand and higher costs for energy and materials, virtually every aspect of the economy needs to be re-examined,

except for, you know, having Wal-Marts.
posted by regicide is good for you at 6:54 PM on June 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


We get milkbags, delivered by an actual milkman.

The bags get their corners snipped. The milk is then poured - without the assistance of a bag-pitcher - from these floppy, squeezable, and sometimes slippery from condensation, bladders into glass bottles. Nary a drop is spilled.

These complainers would be awed by my feats of pouring prowess.

What happened to my old milk?

If I overheard that at Wal-Mart, I wouldn't be able to resist the tiny demon on my shoulder compelling me to explain, in slow and careful detail, the human liquid excretory system.
posted by CKmtl at 6:57 PM on June 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


clocks, guns and tubas.
posted by quonsar at 7:02 PM on June 30, 2008


that's nice - i was describing how a soda machine works, not a $20 coffee maker

Right, but maybe I misunderstood your point - I thought you responded to the person asking why you can't just "push the black disk" like you do on a soda fountain to get milk, which of course, you can in my example. No need for snottiness.
posted by tristeza at 7:13 PM on June 30, 2008


No need for snottiness.

no need for bad answers either - yes, you could put milk in your $20 coffee machine instead of coffee - but after a couple of times, over a day or so, the insides would get really nasty - mrzarquon explained it quite well and if you want to debate it, debate it with him

a $20 coffee machine is not a professional food service beverage dispenser
posted by pyramid termite at 7:40 PM on June 30, 2008


"Rumour has that Walmart is about to introduce a new logo. It has been called a starburst, but it kinda looks like something else, no?
posted by R. Mutt at 4:48 PM "

i work for walmart, and they are comming out with a new logo, looks just like that.
posted by edmcbride at 7:44 PM on June 30, 2008


kadin2048 also explained it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:44 PM on June 30, 2008


"Rumour has that Walmart is about to introduce a new logo. It has been called a starburst, but it kinda looks like something else, no?"

I don't even have to look at it to guess that it looks like an anus, right? Everything looks like an anus these days.
posted by puke & cry at 7:53 PM on June 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots.

It is to laugh. Are you seriously telling me that children don't need to be taught the old milk jug technology? I was fairly old the first time I encountered one, 20s - I don't think I spilled it the first time but I certainly did pretty soon and it took me perhaps half a dozen tries before I could do it without paying attention.

It's a pretty tricky process. 5 degrees difference in the tilt of your hand, 1/72 of a circle, means the difference between nothing and a huge gush. The liquid has momentum and comes out quite fast, but then loses momentum as you tilt the jug back so as you do that you need to move the jug close to the cup or spill some. There's a lot of liquid there and you can get caught by sloshing.

Some engineer or engineers spent his life learning how to design things to design this jug and probably spent hundreds of hours on this specific task alone. There are probably two dozen factors he has to keep in mind, many of which are discussed above.

To read a description of this jug, and perceive an engineering flaw is a stretch. To call the creators of this idiots as a result of a theoretical flaw is impolite and almost certainly inaccurate. To attribute this supposed flaw to arrogance is to say that the engineers were not caring about giving the most positive possible experience to the consumer - do you really believe that this could possibly be true in today's America?

It's not clear that designing more plastic things is really good for the world but if you're going to do that, designing one that saves in many ways on the world's resources over the previous model, a design that will be used by millions, that's the apex of your career.

I strongly doubt that 99% of the people reading this will ever be involved in an achievement of this magnitude.

(Of course, size isn't everything....)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:17 PM on June 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe if they put the directions on the bottom of the jug, more people would figure it out?
posted by fnord at 8:28 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


In Japan at least, all milk is in one liter cardboard cartons. Most Japanese would be amazed at the size of North American milk jugs. And there's not really room for one in many (most?) medium-sized Japanese fridges. People drink plenty of milk, but they also go shopping once or twice a week, compared with once or twice a month in the U.S.

Is that really true, that people commonly go shopping only once or twice in a month? That's a horrifying thought, if true.

I go shopping at least once a week (usually much more often; I buy small amounts on a frequent basis which costs a bit more but means that very little is wasted), but if my milk came in smaller units than a gallon I'd have to go every day. I drink cow juice like it's going out of style, vegan nay-sayers be damned. (Though when I live in a place where all the milk is UHT-treated, then I drink a lot less because the taste is so odd, which I suppose is a roundabout way to save on packaging.)

I haven't seen the redesigned milk containers, but I think it's a great idea. I think we will be seeing more and more of this. There was recently something on MeFi in an environmental thread where Walmart had forced the redesign of the Hamburger Helper packaging, which was supposed to save some astronomical number of truck trips per year. There is so much inefficiency in our packaging and shipping processes, and if it takes higher energy prices to force the removal of those inefficiencies then so be it. Sure, the best solution might be to not use that packaging at all, and we'd all buy generic organic produce from bulk bins... but in the meantime I'll happily settle for a redesign of my milk jugs.
posted by Forktine at 9:07 PM on June 30, 2008


What Costco sells that is very cool, in this vein, is Organic Soy Milk, in one quart packages, that do not need refrigeration until opened. They come 12 quarts to a box. So the one quart does not take up much space in the fridge at all, and the rest sits at room temperature until needed. This is some great stuff. The soy plants are standing around in their rows until brutally harvested by threshing machines, no one cares if soy beans cry, or stand around in their own whatever. Ya know what I mean, it is vanilla flavored, no one has ever heard those beans cry either.
posted by Oyéah at 9:37 PM on June 30, 2008


to say that the engineers were not caring about giving the most positive possible experience to the consumer - do you really believe that this could possibly be true in today's America?

If you say such things in seriousness please use <non-sarcasm> tags, for the most positive possible experience to the Metafilter consumer.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The people seriously complaining about the shape of the milk jug remind me of those spoiled rich girls who complain about the color of their Ferrari that daddy bought them. Who the fuck cares?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:03 PM on June 30, 2008


Optimus Chyme writes "damn milk is awesome"

Goat milk is better. Really. It also has far less impact on the environment, and it's easier for many people to digest. But even better if it's unpasteurized, and of course very fresh. I admit the pasteurization process gives it a different texture, but it's OK in coffee.

I live in a small, rural town with a Wal-Mart. Before I lived here, it was easy to boycott them. Not so anymore. It's not easy finding most of what they have elsewhere. Of course, they've crushed many local businesses, and sometimes there's nowhere else to go. But I don't buy milk or any other sort of food there, save the very occasional snack. They do have food, but it's all crap, processed stuff. There is a local organic grocer, although I'm starting to learn that they carry some brands which aren't very organic, but they are completely local and not a franchise or chain and do carry some of the local farms' output. We have a Wal-Mart, but we also have lots of local, organic farmers, in a community which has farmed here for 400 years. I think the farms will outlast the Wal-Mart. Just a hunch.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:21 PM on June 30, 2008


anyone who enjoys soda or beer who also looks down on milk is completely mental

My severe lactose intolerance is a mental disease?
posted by fatehunter at 11:49 PM on June 30, 2008


My severe lactose intolerance is a mental disease?
posted by fatehunter at 11:49 PM on June 30


I shouldn't have to explain this, but if for instance you were deathly allergic to peanuts, while I wouldn't blame you for hating them, I would think it odd if you gave the rest of us peanut eaters a hard time for enjoying them as a tasty snack.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:10 AM on July 1, 2008


I'll have to check for these new bottles the next time I'm in Costco .

But what I really want to know is why, in my largish town, I can't find any milk in a box. Does no-one camp around here?
posted by madajb at 12:18 AM on July 1, 2008


> STOP SHOPPING AT FUCKING WAL*MART, YOU FAT FUCKING COWS

Don't you mean WALMART*?
posted by Korou at 12:28 AM on July 1, 2008


Since moving to Europe, I am completely sold on UHT milk. Rectangular boxes store/ship efficiently, and require no refrigeration. Once opened they do, but the milk also stays fresh longer in the fridge. And that's important, as I don't consume much milk. Baking and the occasional bowl of cereal is all.
posted by Goofyy at 12:44 AM on July 1, 2008


UHT milk, which comes in sealed cartons that don't need refrigeration until they're opened. You can't tell the difference - it tastes exactly the same and it's so much more convenient.

No way does UHT milk taste the same! I can't drink it straight at all. My kids do, but they don't know any better, poor things. Those aseptic boxes the UHT milk comes in are probably worse for the environment too, since they aren't recyclable.
posted by BinGregory at 1:20 AM on July 1, 2008


I go shopping at least once a week (usually much more often; I buy small amounts on a frequent basis which costs a bit more but means that very little is wasted), but if my milk came in smaller units than a gallon I'd have to go every day.

Is there a rule that says that you can only buy one container per trip? Here in the land of the Tetra Brik, there's often a discount if you buy 8 or more milk briks at once.
posted by effbot at 1:21 AM on July 1, 2008


Rectangular boxes store/ship efficiently, and require no refrigeration.

Please don't equate rectangular boxes with UHT stuff. They work perfectly fine for refrigerated products too.

Those aseptic boxes the UHT milk comes in are probably worse for the environment too, since they aren't recyclable.

Paper isn't recyclable? What's wrong with you guys?
posted by effbot at 1:25 AM on July 1, 2008


I was under the impression that the funky plasticky sheathing on the inside of those packs renders them unrecyclable. I'd be pleased if that's not the case. Still can't stomach the milk though.

Miko: And if American dairy farmers don't make that shift, heck, they can always go to India.

The milk in my fridge right now is from, no kidding, Inner Mongolia, PRC. Granted I'm in SE Asia, but it still seems like the unlikeliest place on earth for milk to flow from. And it was about 25% cheaper than Aussie milk.
posted by BinGregory at 1:36 AM on July 1, 2008


Ok, so they are not worse for the environment over their lifecycle, as I had said, but they are tough to recycle:

In terms of shipping and fuel efficiency, especially over long distances, the lighter cartons are more environmentally friendly. "End of life management is where it has its struggles," she says.

Glad to hear it. I will now feel less guilty about buying my milk off the mongolian steppes.
posted by BinGregory at 1:45 AM on July 1, 2008


I was under the impression that the funky plasticky sheathing on the inside of those packs renders them unrecyclable. I'd be pleased if that's not the case.

The materials are designed to be easily separable during the recycling process (they just run the packaging in a "pulper" which turns the outer paperboard layer into liquid pulp, the rest is then recycled separately).

Recycling rates of 60-70% aren't uncommon in Europe (it was 72.6% in Sweden last year).

Still can't stomach the milk though.

Most of the milk sold in tetra paks/pure-paks over here use low-intensity pasteurization, which doesn't affect the taste that much. I assume they use that for US milk too?
posted by effbot at 2:06 AM on July 1, 2008


(it was 72.6% in Sweden last year).

Correction: that appears to include cardboard boxes too; the figure for liquid containers are 44.5%. Globally, it's about 16%.
posted by effbot at 2:17 AM on July 1, 2008


Is there a rule that says that you can only buy one container per trip?

I was remembering the tiny, tiny, tiny fridge and kitchen I had once, where buying more than two liters of milk was kind of a problem.

My milk hierarchy is that fresh, raw milk (no pasturization, no homogenization) in glass bottles is the best; second best is raw milk in plastic, third best is regular whole milk in glass, then plastic, and so on, with UHT milk down at the bottom next to powdered milk. UHT and powdered milk work for the minimal necessary milk functions -- cereal, coffee, etc -- but not for drinking and enjoying the stuff. Like many things in life, the more you process the stuff the worse it tastes. (Well, unless you count making cheese or yoghurt as "processing," in which case I'm all for processing.)

One of the things that caught my eye in the article was the claim that the new packaging allowed them to move the milk from cow to store more quickly, which I think can only be for the good. That is a kind of "inefficiency" that isn't as easy to measure as wasted space on a truck or extra packaging. But the loss of quality that comes from fresh food sitting an extra day in a shipping depot or in a parked boxcar means -- when it is spread across our entire food distribution system -- that we are eating food that isn't nearly as good as it could be. That's the real advantage of the farmers' market for me -- that the food I buy there has a very short field-to-table time, and tastes much better as a consequence.

I met someone recently who works for a company that is doing something really neat in terms of logistics -- in one sense there is nothing new about it, just the same technology and the same infrastructure moving the same products. But really it is a deceptively simple idea: Railex sends weekly unit trains of refrigerated boxcars from west coast to east, allowing the fast and efficient shipping of perishables that used to get sent as just one car on a big train, with unpredictable arrival times and conditions. I think we are going to see a lot more things like this -- minor improvements and efficiencies made to existing technologies and distribution networks that added together will make a really big difference.
posted by Forktine at 5:46 AM on July 1, 2008


Er.. Americans buy milk by the gallon? Wow.
posted by salmacis at 6:37 AM on July 1, 2008


Costco here has had these for years. They're difficult to pour from initially. Not sure why this is newsworthy.
posted by odinsdream at 6:51 AM on July 1, 2008


The materials are designed to be easily separable during the recycling process (they just run the packaging in a "pulper" which turns the outer paperboard layer into liquid pulp, the rest is then recycled separately).

Recycling rates of 60-70% aren't uncommon in Europe (it was 72.6% in Sweden last year).


Recycling in the U.S. is much more limited. Among plastics and papers, I can only recycle #1 and #2 plastics that have narrow necks, and white paper and newspaper. In no place in the U.S. I have lived (and that's 3 regions and 2 major cities) can you recycle any of the paper+plastic aseptic stuff. Granted, I have not lived in any of the areas rumored to be ecotopias. Many Americans don't know that their local recycling system doesn't accept things like aseptic boxes either because recycling awareness is fairly low here-- people assume you can recycle most anything you toss into the bin. It's the ultimate complacency. I always envy western Europe for being more ambitious in closing their materials loops.

I have found organic milk in plastic at a local co-op, and I'm relieved because the organic milk in most major grocery chains comes in the cardboard outside/plastic lining inside combo containers with the little plastic spout, and I can't recycle those here at all.
posted by Tehanu at 6:52 AM on July 1, 2008


"Er.. Americans buy milk by the gallon? Wow."

My family of three would go through about a gallon a week when I was younger, yes. Now it's all I can do to finish a quart a week.
posted by Eideteker at 8:25 AM on July 1, 2008


I can only recycle #1 and #2 plastics that have narrow necks

I've never been able to figure out why there are restrictions like this. AFAIK, the bottles are shredded during recycling. They're certainly not washed and re-used. So how on earth can the neck diameter have anything to do with its recycleability?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2008


clocks, guns and tubas.

That's aisle five. This is the milk aisle.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:47 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


Clocks, Guns and Tubas, a journey through the Alps.
posted by Artw at 9:06 AM on July 1, 2008 [2 favorites]


The half-gallon paper cartons with the plastic cap on the side are the nirvana of milk-pouring.

Luddite bitching aside, a new milk jug design that is more difficult to use than the previous design has a significant design flaw; acknowledging this isn't fear of change, it's pointing out that the jug needs to meet the needs of the whole lifecycle of use, including decanting - its ultimate purpose.

If it's got a spout, but it dribbles at slow flow rates, it's a poorly designed spout. Go back and do it better. There is ancient engineering knowledge of how to do this well, and if your design *doesn't* do it well, you just didn't do your homework as an industrial engineer. Period.
posted by Pliskie at 9:16 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


160 posts about milk containers....
posted by Zambrano at 9:19 AM on July 1, 2008


I've never been able to figure out why there are restrictions like this. AFAIK, the bottles are shredded during recycling. They're certainly not washed and re-used. So how on earth can the neck diameter have anything to do with its recycleability?

It's not the shape itself that's the issue here, but rather the method used to make that shape. The shape is only important because it's how you tell one manufacturing method from the other. Narrow-necked things like milk bottles are blown up from a smaller size, whereas other things like yogurt cups are poured into a mold. So two #2 items, the milk jug and the yogurt cup, are both made of High Density Polytheylene (HDPE), which means same kind of molecule for each, but since one is made from a mold and the other's blown up, the arrangements of those molecules are different. The yogurt cup has short chains and the milk bottle has long chains. It's much easier to recycle the long chains. For that reason, most recycling programs will accept #2 milk bottles but most won't accept #2 yogurt cups.

More on recycling plastics.
posted by Tehanu at 9:22 AM on July 1, 2008


What, you don't like milk?
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on July 1, 2008


"Er.. Americans buy milk by the gallon? Wow."

American gallons are smaller, if you didn't know (6.66 Imperial pints). But still, it's ridiculous. I use about 25ml a day but find it really hard to buy less than a quart at a time so it mostly goes to waste. It's like when I go to a restaurant; now I'm one fat fucker but I can rarely get through my portion so much of that goes to waste. I waste enough food to feed half a dozen Starvin' Marvins and there's little I can do about it without making a real effort. What a country!
posted by nowonmai at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2008


It’s more acceptable to stop halfway through a meal and get it “boxed” to go here, which is what I usually end up doing (so long as it isn’t just a big mound of starch) , but yes, ridiculous sizes.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on July 1, 2008


Er.. Americans buy milk by the gallon? Wow.

If I'm living alone, I go through a gallon of milk about every five days, sometimes faster. If all I can get is that UHT yucky stuff, then it is about 2 liters per week. A gallon every four or five days isn't terribly much milk -- that's less than a liter per day, or about three or four cups. In real life terms, that means cereal and milk at breakfast, some splashes in tea and/or coffee, and a glass or two of milk with a meal or snack at some point during the day, plus the occasional amount used in cooking. I know many, many people who drink more soda than that every day, and there is no way I will ever be convinced that milk is worse than soda (the lactose intolerant aside).

I know someone with three growing boys, and they average a gallon per day, but I think that's more consumption than normal even for adolescent boys. There was a while this year when milk cost more than gasoline, but I think it is back below the price of gas.
posted by Forktine at 9:31 AM on July 1, 2008


You should see the blocks of cheese. The horrible, horrible, orange "cheese".
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on July 1, 2008


I use about 25ml a day but find it really hard to buy less than a quart at a time so it mostly goes to waste.

In the US milk containers of a pint and smaller are common; is that not the case where you are? In my local store, I can buy pint-sized cardboard milk in whole, 2%, and skim, as well as those plastic "Chugs" in whole, 2%, and chocolate; sometimes one can find 1/2 pint cardboard containers like what used to be served with school lunches.

Also, 25ml is like one fluid ounce, or maybe about two tablespoons -- basically, the amount people put in a cup of coffee. Have you considered picking up a box of those little single-serving half-and-half containers you see in diners? You can get them UHT-treated for long life; your savings from wastage alone would make up for the effort of finding a restaurant supply place that will sell you a small box of them. (Or, $5 or $10 to the manager at your favorite diner will get you a six-month supply of them, for a lot less effort.)
posted by Forktine at 9:48 AM on July 1, 2008


But what I really want to know is why, in my largish town, I can't find any milk in a box.

First, cut a hole in the box.
Then put your cow's junk in the box....
posted by Challahtronix at 9:58 AM on July 1, 2008


I waste enough food to feed half a dozen Starvin' Marvins and there's little I can do about it without making a real effort.

Making a real effort seems underlie most of our problems.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2008


ottereroticist writes "Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots."

The only intuitive interface is the nipple, everything else has to be learned. You may not remember learning how to pour milk from a jug but you did.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 AM on July 1, 2008


Mitheral, it's not a matter of learning, some jug geometries really are easier to pour from than others. Handle location with respect to center of gravity, spout angle and taper, etc. etc.
posted by anthill at 10:58 AM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


"boxed to go"
Depends where you're going, really. If I go straight home I'll be thinking "great, I have lunch for tomorrow", but more typically I'll not want to be carting stinky leaky food packages around a series of bars and brothels or whatever my evening has in store.

In the US milk containers of a pint and smaller are common; is that not the case where you are?
Seemingly not; I can find quarter pints of vile substances like half-and-half, but not skimmed milk. If anybody knows where I can purchase small packages of skimmed milk in my neighborhood I'd like to hear it (Manhattan, 67th-86th streets between Lex and the East river).

Making a real effort seems underlie most of our problems.
Give me convenience or give me death.
posted by nowonmai at 11:58 AM on July 1, 2008


more typically I'll not want to be carting stinky leaky food packages around a series of bars and brothels or whatever my evening has in store.

You can probably find a person in need of food between the restaurant and the bar without even going out of your way.
posted by Tehanu at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2008


I am simultaneously impressed and dismayed that we as a community have this much to say about milk containers.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:04 PM on July 1, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can probably find a person in need of food between the restaurant and the bar without even going out of your way.
You're absolutely right, but I would really much rather the restaurant gave me half the amount of food instead of lumbering me with the burden of finding an appropriate way to deal with the surplus. I don't want to derail the thread with yet another of my insignificant "Europe is like this, USA is like that" whines. It's not really a big deal.
posted by nowonmai at 12:14 PM on July 1, 2008


Mitheral: "ottereroticist writes "Any milk jug that people have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots."

The only intuitive interface is the nipple, everything else has to be learned. You may not remember learning how to pour milk from a jug but you did.
"
The sign said:
Hold stick near centre of its length. Moisten pointed end in mouth. Insert in tooth space, blunt end next to gum. Use gentle in-out motion.
'It seemed to me,' said Wonko the Sane, 'that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a packet of toothpicks, was no longer a civilization in which I could live and stay sane.'
HHGTTG FTW!
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2008


Our milk comes in opaque yellow jugs, which is supposed to retard the spoiling process and preserve flavor. I've no idea if it works. I am impressed by the creamy goodness of this thread, though, and confident in my milk-pouring abilities. Of course, I have cats and a mop should I fail.
posted by notashroom at 4:04 PM on July 1, 2008


The integral pinched tube attached to the bag of those old-timey cafeteria milk dispensers was quite clever, but I always found myself wondering why they used a counterweight to supply the force to pinch the tube closed, rather than a spring. Maybe springs are harder to wash down? Maybe to circumvent a patent? Maybe the inertia of the counterweight put a practical upper limit on the speed at which the pincher could pinch the tube (and thus kept the tube from being cut or punctured)?
posted by oats at 4:25 PM on July 1, 2008


I am simultaneously impressed and dismayed that we as a community have this much to say about milk containers.

you're lucky that we're not discussing paperboard milk cartons - you'd be amazed at how much i could say about those - and dismayed - trust me on that
posted by pyramid termite at 4:31 PM on July 1, 2008


About the opaque jugs: some of the vitamin content of milk is photosensitive. This is particularly true of vitamins A, D and B2. As the B2, in particular, breaks down under light it alters the taste of milk. Not to mention that you don't get the health benefits of these nutrients once they break down. I have no idea why opaque containers have proved unpopular outside of Georgia and the Carolinas. Maybe it's the convenience of being able to tell by sight just how much milk you have left? Or maybe people just thought they were ugly? Or maybe the translucent container folks are just resistant to change? Smaller quantities are available in opaque packaging so it's not like it's totally foreign. So I know I could, and often do, buy it that way, but two half-gallons of milk costs more than a gallon no matter the packaging.

And for what it's worth I still spill a little bit from the old jugs when it's still mostly full. It never fails to dribble down either the side of the glass or the side of the jug.
posted by prosthezis at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2008


Let me restate my point:

Any milk jug that people adults have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:15 PM on July 1, 2008


I saw "new" and "Wal-Mart" and thought this post was going to be about the new logo.

Great. Is nothing sacred? First they turn the humble smiley-face into the symbol of a corporate behemoth. Now they're going to make glowing assholes seem all creepy and sinister. I hate the idea that I'm gonna think "Wal-Mart" every time I see a glowing asshole.
posted by straight at 10:24 AM on July 2, 2008


So, everything new is bad?
posted by Irontom at 10:34 AM on July 2, 2008


Everything gives you cancer.
Everything.
There's no cure, there's no answer.
Everything.
Gives you cancer.
posted by Dizzy at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2008


To be fair, some things are more generous with cancer than others.
posted by Tehanu at 12:21 PM on July 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any milk jug that people adults have to be taught to use is a milk jug that was designed by arrogant idiots.

Then put the world in an asylum and go outside.


"We're the Metafilter Gang." - Blossom
"We overthink." - Buttercup
"That's what we do." - Blossom
"Duh." - Bubbles

posted by lysdexic at 1:34 PM on July 2, 2008


As for me and my house, I guess it's back to Organic Valley. I sent emails to both Horizon and OV asking what happened to the calves that were produced to bring forth the milk. Never got an answer from Horizon. OV said they spent about 8 weeks with their moms, then were sold and raised on whatever they raise commercial cattle on.
posted by lysdexic at 1:37 PM on July 2, 2008


"I heart the Powerpuff Girls. Down with Mojo Jojo!" - lysdexic
posted by Tehanu at 2:32 PM on July 2, 2008


When I was a kid, milk wasn't so easy to come by. Mom would have to get pregnant and then lactate into a glass. Uphill. Both ways.
posted by muzzlecough at 10:22 PM on July 5, 2008


So I decided to find out for myself if this new jug was well designed or not. I bought two gallons of milk at Costco after reading this thread. I didn't spill any with my first gallon. I drank some from the second, then decided to record myself pouring.

I think the claim that this jug is poorly designed is greatly overstated.
posted by Tube at 9:51 PM on July 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Clearly, you are well above average intelligence.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 PM on July 6, 2008


I drank some from the second, then decided to record myself pouring.

Dang, can you upload a slow-mo version. That goes by too fast for me to learn how to do it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:58 AM on July 7, 2008


Everyone take a deep breathe and let's WORK the PROBLEM, PEOPLE.
Looks like we may be here all night.
Matt, let's get some cots stat, amigo.
Cortex, fire up the Java, Maestro.
Jess-- that's right-- 25,000 glo-Stix. Just like last time.
Alpha Team:::: Team Meeting in TEN!
posted by Dizzy at 7:02 PM on July 7, 2008


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