Milk Cartons

Milk Cartons?!??!

A student project approached us and said that they had found some interesting information about milk cartons and the environment. They asked if the information could be put on Eco All-Star Kids for all to see.

Are Milk Cartons Recyclable?

Did you know that the small half-pint milk cartons that most elementary schools serve milk in are not recyclable? According to Waste Management, they are hard to recycle because they are wax lined. Almost all milk cartons like this go into landfills.

How many half-pint milk cartons do elementary schools in a school district put into landfills each year?

Based on data provided by a local elementary school cafeteria managers, about 44% of the elementary students buy milk at lunch. There are about 53,503 students in elementary school in the school district. That means about 23,500 drink milk everyday. There are about 180 days in a school year. That means 4,230,000 cartons go into a landfill each year from elementary schools in that school district.

How much landfill space are the milk cartons taking up?

The volume of one smashed milk carton is about 5.25 cubic inches. The landfill space saved by one school in a year would be 415,800 cubic inches of land fill space. For the local school district, it would save 22,207,500 cubic inches of landfill space a year.

How much could you save from serving milk from dispensers?

The research showed that you spend about $.38 on each half-pint milk carton. If an average school has 1000 students, then 440 drink milk each day. That’s about 79,200 milk cartons (4950 gallons) per school, a cost of $30,096 each year. The research showed that 6 gallon bags cost $12.63. 4950 gallons would require 159 of the 6 gallon bags. That’s a cost of $2000 for the milk. Plus you would buy recyclable cups and machines to dispense the milk. 2000 cups would cost $90.49. For about 40 cases for a school year, the cost is $3600 for cups. 3 dispenser machines would cost about $7000. In the first year, the cost is $12,600 (including machines) and each following year would cost $5,600. That's a savings per year for the first year of $17,500 and for each following year $24,496.

What can I do?

Contact your local school district and request that they replace milk cartons with milk dispensers and use recyclable cups (You can point them to this page for more detailed information!). It saves the school districts money and it helps save the environment so they will see it as a cost and environment saver. This will make them more likely to implement the idea of using milk dispensers rather than milk cartons because it saves them money.

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