Thursday, July 22, 2010

Product RE:view - Sainsbury's Milk Pouch

Disclosure: This little effort is going to compete pretty much with my RE:tie idea. Not directly, but with the caps used on many milk bottles. So it is hard to be totally objective in seeking its success. Looking on the bright side, it may make the cap & bottle guys find some merit in a device that not only promotes reuse, but gives their products an edge, too. Just sayin'

Update - a few very interesting comments has made it worth reposting since the 24/05/10 first publication.


As part of a greening initiative, supermarket Sainsbury's have put on a push to promote the use of these milk pouches in the JUGit

They have seen some success. Interestingly another retailer, Waitrose, has not. An odd difference in light of their demographics, which I would have pegged as pretty similar.


Buying is no problem, though there is a trust factor in carrying it in your basket and or bag home. They claim it can be dropped and not burst, but I was more concerned with being pierced. As were a few others. Hence, ironically, all of us asked for a plastic bag to put it in in case it leaked onto our eco-reuse bags.

Oh, and you'd better like semi-skimmed, at least for now. At least it is..'green'

Once home, set up was a breeze. Simple, neat design.

However, it is not so neat in terms of fridge footprint. Where the bottles stand high and fit neatly. the jug sucks up space.


It's about waste, right?

Well, I am biased. I don't throw milk jugs away. I reuse them. And if they do end up in the bin, in this neighbourhood they get recycled. But I do concede that, where this does not happen, a bag is a lot less plastic than a bottle.

Thing is there are also the contents. Now here I can put hand on heart and say I am not convinced. With my lovely 13-year old assistant to set up as I shot the pix, the initial spout pierce sent a gollup up into the pouring ring. This was impossible to rescue easily and ended up missing the cup. The rest of the bag drained fine, but there was some left over due to the spout pierce design. Now, you can get at this, but it is fiddly. With a bottle you get it all... easily.

Also not too impressed by the different but near identical instruction sheets supplied; one from maker and one from retailer. I'd say a single combo might have been more 'on message'.

So... not too convinced, TBH, on almost all counts bar the raw materials one.

So it will be interesting to see how it gets received elsewhere.

At least I now have a nice new jug. That is pretty much useless for any other function.


Seduced by the offer (frankly, I think they might need to offer more savings for longer, as the deal is not too great), I have just made a complete horlicks of the next one, thanks to not having my spex on.

I put the bag in upside down. Not sure this made much difference to the now familiar fountain that went everywhere on piercing, but it certainly doesn't work on the pouring. Most ended up in the jug and coming out the edge rather than the spout. Now all, ironically, decanted into a more traditional milk bottle I had handy (well, about 1,000 odd)

Addendum 2 - Tescos trying too now, ironically, the day I get a very sensible comment from a reader. Why have the jug, at least in this form, at all?

Addendum 3 - Have revisited the trade mag piece above, and only now via comments got reminded of ASDA Green Bottle, or Greenbottle (Google, amusingly, tries to correct one to the other, though it seems wrong). Couple of issues here. First up, I'd forgotten all about it. Now, we shop at ASDA rarely (though pop in, like we do with the protagonists Sainsbury's, Waitrose and Tescos already cited), and I don't recall ever seeing it. So, as with all things, how these options are presented are crucial in the whole consumer acceptance mix.

For all the preference expressed for these by the posters, I'd have to say that my feelings on this option are equally mixed. Seems like a more familiar, possibly convenient design, but there are a new set of eco-compromises. In this case, it's less a matter of reduction but almost purely recyclability. And that, again, depends on the facilities provided from retailer to local authority. You pays yer money and take yer chances... even with what's best for the planet.

Addendum 4 - The product manager for JUGIT has taken the trouble to write, and is well worth checking out for his views.

Friday, July 09, 2010

The curse of 'ahead of your time'

Always hated that phrase.

Mainly as it is usually meant well, but can make for uncomfortable memories subsequently.

Almost 10 years ago was created, with some fanfare, and a fair bit of support (though little actual dosh after the creation phase) or 'interest' from such as BusinessLink, Chambers of Commerce and various quangos and NGOs, such as WRAP, NISP, BERR, DTi, DEFRA, DirectGov, etc.

And our messages have been, from the off, variations of 'turn re:fuse into re:source'.

All featured, often to great media acclaim, around the world.

So this little sequence piqued (gotta love twitter) interest, for all sorts of reasons:

FabianPattberg Good post: Researchers study how to reuse waste in creative, local ways

Sustainability Forum - Good post: Researchers study how to reuse waste in creative, local ways

Greenbang - Researchers study how to reuse waste in creative, local ways

Teeside Uni - One man’s waste is another man’s resource

Now, not being one to miss a chance at promo, I have been on the case. Ride the wave 'n all.

But it was hard to resist pondering what we, and others, might have done over the last decade with the £1.76M earmarked to study this issue further.

Especially as they seem not to be too up on the various efforts already out there in this regard. Or didn't feel like asking before getting this awesome award. I say this guessing is not one of the beneficiaries of : 'It will help provide assistance to 40 enterprises each year, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

But I might ponder who they might be. Never hurts to ask.

For now... I'm smarting a tad.

Maybe a bit of time to simmer down... and then try and figure out how to capitalise on this.

Because if the powers that be have that kind of money to blow on reuse now...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

If you go down to the stores in the next few days...

...You might be in for a big surprise!

Well, that is, if you are in or near Poundland Worcester over the next week or so.

Because, after many stops and starts, our grant supported proof-of-concept consumer research for RE:tie has at last been signed off, and the team from the University of Worcester Business School Research Department is today being briefed ready to head off and tackle the public for their views.

It's a big deal for, as RE:tie is our best shot at some actual decent commercial revenue, not to mention being a potentially awesome poster child for the potential of designed-in reuse.

It's also a time of great anticipation, if tinged with nerves. This is totally independent research. I have even been banned from attending, as it seems I am a potential contaminant of the methodology and results. It will be based on store-exit surveys using our Video Pitch and a brief questionnaire regarding green shopping habits, plus of course the disability assist feature.

Anyway, once the results are in I'll of course share them, and am keeping all digits crossed that it will be a) good, and b) at last enough to help get onside the hard-nosed number crunchers in brands and retailers who have been saying up to now: 'How can we be sure the public will see this as a worthwhile benefit?'

Meanwhile, many thanks to all involved, and especially Poundland for being so supportive in helping with this research by providing the venue. It is especially appropriate that they be involved, as of course the URL is featured as a source of eco-info on their products' packaging, and in the period since they kindly added this, thousands of their customers have as a consequence signed up to the site.

There will be more on this, and I will be PR'ing it up the whazzoo, especially as a great example of public/private collaboration, with a regional flavour which will hopefully pique the interest of the media around here.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Resting Place, Finally

Remember our reuse competition, and its top prize bench?

And that the winners, some local kids, had kindly donated it to Ross on Wye?

Well, after a wee bit of a saga it must be said, it is now in pride of place at a major junction at the top of the town, offering a welcome rest stop to young and old alike from various schools, nearby care homes and sports facilities.

Nice to see it at last doing what it was meant to, and in a way to make the community proud.

Watch this space as there may be a tad more PR yet to squeeze from this heart-warming epic, as local handy-whizzes 'The Can-do Crew!' (name and logo created chez Junkk:) kindly installed it securely, and there was a camera on hand to send to the local media, who have been very supportive of this whole story.