Reusing plastic milk bags

Canadians should be proud of some of the life changing inventions they have pioneered.  However, Canadians have also invented a number of items that have wreaked havoc to the planet.  The familiar green garbage bag was a Canadian invention.  Canadians also pioneered the idea of selling milk in plastic bags.

In other parts of the world, milk is sold in plastic jugs, cartons or glass bottles.  The rational for selling milk in plastic bags is that there is less packaging waste and that the milk lasts longer.

The average Canadian consumes approximately 20 bags of the 4-litre milk bags a year.  The average size of a Canadian household is 3 people, so in one year, that family will be throwing out 60 plastic milk bags.

In Halton Region, plastic bags cannot be recycled in the Blue Box.  Therefore, the majority of these plastic bags end up in a landfill.

There are a number of ways people have reused plastic milk bags.

And, there is also a program where plastic milk bags are collected and diverted from landfill for a good cause.  There are a number of charities throughout Ontario that collect the outer plastic milk bags to be used into the creation of bed mats for people in less developed regions of the world.  Plastic (not biodegradable plastic) milk bags are cut into strips to be woven (crocheted) into mats.  It takes about 500 to 600 plastic bags to create one adult size bed mat.  These woven mats last up to 20 years, are waterproof and the plastic is a natural insect replant.

A number of local elementary school eco clubs take the plastic bags and also make bed mats.  Halton residents can check with their local school to see if they are collecting and crocheting plastic milk bags.

Or better yet, start a plastic milk bag collection and crocheting group for donation to one of the many charitable organizations donating bed mats.

About joycewychan

I'm Joyce Chan, the Waste Management Program Coordinator for Halton Region where I am involved with project management. I am an avid skier and by using the Blue Box and GreenCart we can all help keep winter white.
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4 Responses to Reusing plastic milk bags

  1. Chris Lloyd says:

    I collect my plastic milk bags and take them to the bin in the local grocery store at the entrance and have them recycled. But, having read this story, I am going to make an effort to buy my milk in plastic jugs now. Though I don’t like using plastic (as it leaches chemicals) I figure I could transfer the contents of the jug to a glass pitcher once I get it home.

  2. Anthony Bensley says:

    I am a lifelong Central Canada Resident, and I absolutely HATE Milk Bags! Just having to check to make sure they don’t leak before buying them is bad enough! They are very prone to leakage, and if the size is even a hair off, getting them in the pitcher (Another thing we have to buy to house the useless things!) properly is a terrible pain!

    As for Milk Bags being more recyclable, I say hogwash! Has anyone ever actually tried calculating just how much water wastage there is in rinsing out the residual Milk in these? Besides, who wants to make that kind of an effort?

    I say, ban plastic the Milk Bags, and bring on the Milk Jugs! At least with them, it is a lot easier to check for any kind of leakage, and a lot easier to rinse out for recycling! The government also needs to stop singling out recyclable plastic water bottles as a target for banning! I suppose Water Bags will be the next “innovation!” UUGGHH!!!!

    Western Canada and the Americans have the right idea! Why can’t the rest of Canada get on board? And enough of the lame “Less Plastic is used for Milk Bags than Jugs” argument! In my opinion, the disadvantages far outweigh that alleged benefit!


  3. amanda jannack says:

    how do i get this at my sons school he would like to get his freinds and classmate to help too

  4. Thanks for your comments.

    Amanda, look for a charity in your area that turns milk bags into bed mats. has a list of some charities in Ontario, Canada.

    – John Watson, Waste Diversion Education Coordinator, Halton Region

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