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bottle returns in ..plastic bags?!!?!
July 14, 2013 - 6:58 am

Hi guys,

I was wondering if any of you had the same problem as mine and if you could give me some tips:

Here’s the thing. When I return my milk bottles in my store for the deposit, they always put it in plastic bags. Really annoying. I wrote to the store, they say it is the policy of the farm. I wrote to the farm but I hadn’t got any news from them. 

I was wondering if there was a policy about bringing something in a store from outside and having to put it in plastic to avoid contamination..weird and stupid but you never know.

Have anyone had the same experience or have some tips about regulations?

Thank you!


Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
July 15, 2013 - 10:15 am

That is really bizarre that the farm requires plastic bags of all things to store the milk containers. I’m guessing from your email address that you’re in France, is this correct? I’m not familiar with dairy farms in France but I have noticed in other European countries as well as the US that dairy farms provide either metal crates or plastic crates that hold milk glasses that are ready to be washed and reused. Would you mind revealing the name of the dairy farm so that I can do some research? 

July 16, 2013 - 10:06 am

Hey, thanks for your answer. 

Yes I’m sorry I realized after I haven’t mentioned that I’m in New York and the name of the farm is Ronnybrook Farm. 

By the way, their caps do not seem to be taken back at Whole food (plastic#4), would do you also have some tips about that?

We usually drink homemade almond milk but sometimes we like getting those.



Beth Terry
409 Posts
July 17, 2013 - 1:55 am

Very strange that they require the bottles in plastic bags.  Out here, Straus Creamery, the dairy that offers milk in glass, does not require the bottles returned in plastic. Have you contacted the farm about it and explained why this simply doesn’t make sense?  It seems like sometimes companies package in glass for health reasons and then forget all about the environmental health problems created by the exterior packaging.  (Like Lotus Foods — a company I called out in my blog post today:  /2013/07/dear-lotus-foods-why-packaged-healthy-stainless-steel-in-toxic-styrofoam/)  

My best advice to you is to call, write, get others to call and write.  Let them know how you feel.  Start an online petition if you get no response from them!  Our voices can make a difference.

July 17, 2013 - 3:28 pm

Thanks for the tips. I tried to contact them but no answers. But I also just found out they are at a farmer market not too far away from my place, so I hope to have more luck and be able to speak with them there. I also wonder if my supermarket just told me that to get rid of the question. But I’ll keep working on it.

Good luck with Lotus and thank you so much for all what you do, you’re really inspiring! 


Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
July 18, 2013 - 12:27 pm

Hello again! I checked out Ronnybrook dairy farm’s website and obtained a contact email. I’m writing to them as well and asking if it’s their policy to have their bottles returned in plastic bags. I hope you are able to make it to one of their farmers markets so that you can talk to someone face to face. But in the mean time, hopefully they will respond to one of our letters. 

Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
July 19, 2013 - 11:06 am

Hi Dorothee! I wanted to let you know I just heard back from Ronnybrook Farm. I’m including my initial email that I sent and their response. Based on your previous post I assumed it was Whole Foods who claimed it was Ronnybrook farms policy about putting the glass bottles inside plastic bags. Is that correct? 


Hi there, 

I found your company via a woman named Dorothee who is a subscriber to a blog I intern for called Is it your companies policy to have the used milk bottles placed in plastic bags? I was told that every time your bottles are returned to a Whole Food’s store, they place the milk bottles in plastic bags. Dorothee then wrote to the Whole Food’s store regarding this issue and was told that this was the farms policy. Is this true? I live in San Francisco California where I buy Straus dairy products that also come in glass bottles and I’m able to return them back to the store I purchased them from without having them placed in plastic bags. 
Look forward to hearing back with a reply regarding this issue. 
Ericka Alicea intern
Hi Ericka,

It is untrue that we tell Whole Foods’ that we want them in plastic bags.  That is their rule.  They have our milk crates to return them to us in.  It is an issue to take up with Whole Foods.  Can you imagine the mess if we told all our customers to return them to us in plastic bags?  The breakage?  This is very untrue.  We use milk crates that have a space for every bottle. Thanks for your concern, Denice

July 24, 2013 - 2:37 pm

Hi Ericka,

I’m sorry I was away and again I should have been more specific, I’m actually buying them from my supermarket called “Best Yet” in Harlem, Manhattan. But what you’ve done is so great as I was still not receiving any answer from the farm. So from now on, I’ll try to work with my supermarket directly and send them this response and hope to give you good news in the future…

Thanks again


Plastic-Free Ericka Moderator
July 27, 2013 - 1:42 pm

Ah, ok so it’s really Best Yet that is saying they are required to use plastic bags, I see. I would love to hear what Best Yet’s response is. Please do keep us updated and thank you for caring! 

July 29, 2013 - 12:04 pm

Hey! I joined the last emails we had with the supermarket. 


Here’s what I wrote to them after your message:


Hello Jonathan,

This is Dorothee Pierrard, I wrote you a few weeks ago about a concern I had with the return of the bottles in plastic bags in your supermarket. ( our previous discussion is below)
I’m writing back to you because I checked with Ronnybrook Farm ( concerning the plastic bags for the returned bottles and it’s definitely not their policy. 
Here’s their answer:
It is untrue that we tell Whole Foods’ that we want them in plastic bags.  That is their rule.  They have our milk crates to return them to us in.  It is an issue to take up with Whole Foods.  Can you imagine the mess if we told all our customers to return them to us in plastic bags?  The breakage?  This is very untrue.  We use milk crates that have a space for every bottle. Thanks for your concern, Denice – See more at:
So, is there any way we could work on this issue as I know that your company is working on going Green?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Dorothee Pierrard
Here’s their response:
Hi Dorothee,
From what I’m told by our store team leader. We take the bags full of any recyclable bottle to the back room to separate into different recycling containers. The Ronnybrook containers are picked up in a milk crate with the other Ronnybrook Returned bottles by the distributor. Other bottles such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi etc. are brought to the back to be separated into the proper recycling container. The plastic bags in the front of the store only serve the purpose to bring the bottles to the back of the store. All our throw away plastic bags are recycled as well. Hope that clears it up.
And what I wrote back:
Hi Jonathan,
Thank you very much for your response. I really appreciate it. But actually it does not explain why the store has to use plastic bags to bring the bottles in the back of the store. These bottles are meant to be returned in order to reduce the plastic consumption and Go Green as your store says, no?
And the first principles to go Green is to “Reduce”,”Reuse” then “Recycle” no? This last “R”, going with the Go Green process, shouldn’t be used at last as Best Yet itself propose reusable Go Green bags? May I ask why not use actually a Best Yet Go Green bag to bring the bottles in the back of the store and to actually show your clients that the philosophy of the store is to reduce its waste as your bags say? If Best Yest itself use plastic bags, why clients should use your Go Green bags and not the plastic ones? 
Otherwise I would like to thank you again to bring Ronnybrook Farm in your supermarket, a sustainable and local farm, a real product this community is looking for and I hope to see that your philosophy of business keeps growing.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you,
Dorothee Pierrard
I’ll let you know if I got some updates.
Thanks again guys
July 30, 2013 - 9:23 am

Kudos to you for keeping up the conversation!  Another suggestion: Food stores always have lots of cardboard boxes that packaged items are shipped in.  There are a few stores in my area that actually have a spot out front for putting those boxes so customers can take one to use for their purchases if they choose.  They could provide boxes for customers to use for their bottles. 

October 30, 2013 - 1:20 pm


I really wanted to share some updates concerning those bottles returns.

By the way, thanks Amy for your idea, I’ll keep it mind for next time.

So since July, I got a first response from the store, stating that they would do it.

But then for three months I hadn’t see any changes in their practice. I wasn’t really surprised as plastic bags are everywhere here. When I asked some employees some explanations they told me it was to avoid any broken glass on the floor…

So I wrote again an email without any response for one month and I kind of gave up by going to Whole food instead but a miracle happened today. Here’s what I received:


Hi Dorothee,

If you haven’t noticed, we now leave a crate in the front end. All bottles go back to the receiver and get picked up by the manufacturer in those crates. 
Thanks to this blog I’m going to shop at my local store this week with (hopefully)
no plastic bags around my bottle returns,a big smile on my face and a lot of energy to keep avoiding plastic in our lives!
Beth Terry
409 Posts
November 25, 2013 - 6:25 pm

This is fantastic news! Thank you for the update. It’s always worth it to speak up!

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