What's the reason some places use milk bags instead of milk jugs or other means?

  • I am not sure if it happens in other countries, but some provinces in Canada uses milk bags for 4L instead of jugs, or other containers. Anyone knows if there is an advantage of this over the other conventional method? Is it because it's supposed to be more consumer friendly?

    Because of this you have to buy a special item called milk bag holder that's only used for this. It's an item made to solve a problem that shouldn't be there in the first place. But also now you have another thing to clean from time to time as milk drops can form all kinds of bad stuff in the holder. The most common ones can even cut your hand because of utilizing ridges at the top for no reason.

    There are other gotchas like what you need to do to seal the hole temporarily, etc.

    Is there a reasonable design decision for this or it is done just because?

    This is how it looks:

    enter image description here

    I have never seen that in any place that I have lived or traveled to. It's quite original for me, risky, but original.

    It has a novelty value. I used to have small water bags on buses but they were meant to be consumed at once, so it's not as bad.

    Germany once used milk bags instead of TetraPaks, but I didn't find milk bags anymore since ~2002.

    @PacMani: it was very common in East Germany.

    @peterchen: Is it still used in East Germany? I'm coming from West Germany, and there they have disappeared a long time ago.

    No, consumer goods were almost completely replaced after the fall of the wall. Few products survived, and milk bags were not one of them - with one leaky bag in the tray, every bag *looked* leaky. I still have some nostalgia for the actual procedure of checking all corners, though. Plus, less garbage etc.

    @peterchen: How do you check for all corners, please let us know who still have to use milk bags :)

    @JoanVenge: *laugh* It's just a motor memory, awoken: standing there with a bag of milk lifted. You pick one bag from the bag/milk soup, pinching it at one corner, lifting it carefully as not to splatter milk over you. With all weight resting on one bottom corner, you try to figure out whether the milk dropping from it is from the outside or the inside - quickly, so you do not get stern words from the shopping courtesy police. Repeat for all corners.

    Hehe that's pretty good man. I once saw someone trying to squeeze the bags :)

    Why not just pour the milk in the jug?

    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is about reasons products are designed a certain way for reasons other than UX.

    While the ultimate answer may not be UX, the initial framing of the question is entirely framed from a usability perspective. "Why do I have to buy a 3rd party milk jug" vs. "Why not just *design* the handle into a plastic jug I buy" - being just one of the points brought up.

    A lot of misconceptions in this question and in some of the answers.

  • The Wikipedia article on Milk Bags point out the other countries they are common in. It also calls out the benefits (though not referenced):

    Milk bags use less plastic than traditional milk jugs and are placed in reusable plastic pitchers. The bags themselves can also be washed out and re-used to carry sandwiches, or to freeze food (using a twist tie or rubber band for closure).

    They contain less plastic than a milk jug, causing less environmental harm than milk jugs. Milk bags are more ideal from an environmental standpoint than paper milk cartons or glass milk bottles.

    "Bucky," over at The West Virginia Blogger, asked his Canadian friend in 2008 and received several points, including:

    • The bags were actually adopted to reduce waste and other resources required to transport the milk.
    • The bags themselves are easy to sterilize and transport and some people even freeze their milk.
    • As well, the fact that you buy such a large amount usually means savings.

    A comment in the above article by "sj" claims there is a 25-cent deposit on plastic jugs in Ontario, to help keep them out of landfills by discouraging people from buying them.

    From Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, further evidence of overall cost is given:

    there are a fair number of people in South Africa who don't have much money. Milk bags use less materials than jugs, so are cheaper to make. Some people are willing to pay for convenience, some people aren't.

    Note the last paragraph, implying that bags are not more usable then jugs. Indeed, an update to the same blog post points out:

    Update 1: Chris Auld wrote to Dan Wong of the BC Dairy Council and received this reply. Mr Wong explained that milk is not sold in bags in BC because of widespread cross-border shopping - consumers prefer milk sold in jugs, and be even more inclined to buy milk in the US if milk was not available in jugs in BC.

    It appears that, according from the Dairy Council, consumers in Canada were willing to cross the border to America to buy jugs (likely at higher cost) for the convenience.

    It would appear the the "design" decisions behind bagged milk is primarily for environmental and transportation reasons. The cost saving design of this is also of note, but unlikely to be the primary reason due many consumers willingness to spend more for convenience (i.e., jugs).

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM