Highmead Dairies in Carmarthenshire has joined together in a consortium with Welsh farmers co-operative Llaeth Cymreig and DairyLink UK to launch the award winning Nampak third pint milk polybottle as an exclusive product for schools in Wales.

The current demise of dairy farmers in Wales and the lack of Welsh milk in Welsh schools has prompted the newly formed consortium to spearhead the fight to get school children in Wales back to drinking locally sourced and produced fresh Welsh milk.

This initiative totally embraces the Welsh Assembly’s Sustainable Strategy for Wales by ensuring everything about the product is locally sustainable.

The milk, which is produced by farm assured, family farms within a ten-mile radius of the dairy, is processed and packed at the dairy by people living in that same locality. It will shortly be distributed via existing distribution channels to schools currently taking milk processed by Highmead Dairies.

Distribution to the schools will continue to be undertaken by locally based existing milkmen and distributors, thus aiming to ensure sustainable jobs and a sustainable future for farmers, processors and distributors across Wales. The award-winning third pint bottle is totally recyclable (bottle, cap and label) and fits in precisely with the Welsh Assembly’s target of reducing all packaging to landfill. It already contains 10% of recycled HDPE material with this percentage of recycled material increasing to 30% during 2010.

By contrast, some three tonnes of school milk cartons per week are sent to landfill sites across Wales, generating a 120 metric tonne mountain of landfill waste every year. This landfill waste is totally avoidable by using the new recyclable container.

The Welsh third pint bottle being produced by the consortium is also extremely environmentally friendly in that, as well as being totally recyclable, the bottle will travel very few miles to reach its young consumers.

By sourcing, processing and distributing the milk locally, the Welsh third pint bottle avoids the environmental impact of the thousands of food/milk miles currently incurred by school milk each week, as it is transported to processing dairies throughout the length and breadth of the UK. Double food/milk miles are then incurred, as the processed milk is transported back to Wales for onward distribution to the schools.

This product is unique in its Welshness, using local produce, resources, people and communities. The impact of its recyclability and local sourcing helps create a very low carbon footprint for the product and significantly reduces the environmental impact of production and distribution of school milk across the principality.

It is a classic example of Welsh businesses co-operating with each other, to try to bring sustainable benefits to the Welsh economy and most importantly, the benefits of good, fresh, local Welsh milk to all our school children.

Welcoming the news, Farmers’ Union of Wales milk committee chairman, Eifion Huws, said: “Milk is an important part of a balanced diet, and is particularly important in providing essential vitamins and minerals in developing children. The FUW is supportive of any moves that ensure local milk is supplied to local children.”