Types of milk packaging

Written by e.a. west
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Types of milk packaging
Plastic is used to make some milk containers. (menz11stock/iStock/Getty Images)

All milk packaging must meet strict requirements for food safety. Out of the many types of packaging available, only certain materials can be used for each type of milk product. Powdered milk doesn't have the same storage requirements as liquid milk or evaporated milk. All milk packaging is designed to maintain the freshness and protect the flavour of the milk product.

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Paper based

Cartons made from wax or plastic coated paper board are one of the most common types of milk packaging. From school canteens to home kitchens, milk cartons are easily stored in the fridge to keep liquid milk fresh longer and they come in a variety of sizes. Another paper-based package is a cardboard box, which is used for dry milk powder. Paper-based packaging is lightweight and low cost, but it's susceptible to moisture and tearing.

Plastic packaging

Another common packaging material for milk is plastic. Whether used for bottles in various sizes or made into packets, plastic is used to hold fresh and pasteurised milk. Drawbacks of plastic containers include becoming fragile at low temperatures and melting at high temperatures.

Glass bottles

Remember the days of milkmen delivering fresh dairy goods in glass bottles to the door early in the morning? Glass bottles are still used today by some dairies, although they aren't as widely used as plastic or paper-based packaging. While glass is heat resistant, it is also heavy and fragile. One advantage of glass is that recycling or reusing the bottles is straightforward.

Metal packaging

Both aluminium and tin are used to make cans for milk products, such as evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Some of the advantages of metal packaging are the strength of the material and its grease-proof qualities. One drawback to aluminium is its vulnerability to acids. Tin tends to be heavy and expensive.

Wooden barrels

Barrels made from wood are used for bulk packaging of milk products such as sweetened condensed milk and buttermilk. Wooden barrels must meet high requirements for quality to avoid tainting the milk and are sometimes coated with wax or plastic to make the barrel waterproof.

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