The Carbon Footprint of Milk Containers

By Amy Crews for

Usually at the grocery store check-out you will be asked your preference for paper or plastic. That question now extends to your milk purchase, as milk comes in a variety of containers and travel varied distances to get to your local store.

In a research study performed by Pablo Paster, an environmental consultant for, one of my favorite eco-friendly sites, the environmental impact of a quart of milk was measured. The four types of containers tested were cardboard, plastic, glass and TetraPak, which is a method used to allow milk to be stored unrefrigerated prior to opening.

Included in the measurement was how the milk container was manufactured, transported and stored.

The results for each container were as follows:

Cardboard 3,150 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
Plastic 2,880 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
Glass 2,090 grams of greenhouse gas emissions
TetraPak 1,340 grams of greenhouse gas emissions

Glass bottles emitted the highest amount of greenhouse gas in a majority of the categories, which is not surprising as glass weighs more and has more raw materials for manufacturing. You can see that the cardboard milk container, had the highest level of gas emissions, and the TetraPak had the lowest.

While making healthy choices about the nutritional quality of the products you bring into your home is important, it is equally important to consider our environment and make eco-friendly choices when you can. On your next grocery trip, take a moment to see if there are packaging choices that can reduce your impact on our beautiful planet.

How to Choose the Healthiest Milk
Dairy Companies Hoping to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Major Report Explores Staggering Impact of Meat Production
The Water Footprint of Food

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Val M.
Val M.2 years ago

Thanks for the info

Nimue Pendragon
Nimue Pendragon2 years ago

Vegan here :)

Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy2 years ago

Yes recycling is also relevant to this subject

Vita Pagh
Vita P.2 years ago

Good to know. Thank you.

aj E.
aj E.2 years ago

good to know.

Duane B.
.2 years ago

How to Grow Great Tomatoes

Jim F.
Past Member 2 years ago

Back in the day we got the milk directly from the "container". The cow was completely recyclable too.

Fiona T.
Fi T.2 years ago

Nice to start from something we have daily

Ben Oscarsito
Ben Oscarsito2 years ago

I don't drink milk, thanks very much!

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby2 years ago

thank you