We always think we will recognise the future when we see it – but we don’t. A couple of years ago on a work trip to Zurich, I met @FlurinConradin and his milking vending machine @stadtmilch, a localised milk vending machine. In the slightly rarefied atmosphere of an organic deli in Zurich this seemed to be an interesting experiment but one that would only apply to a niche of consumers.
But the idea that if we removed plastic, and the home delivery we might be able to open up the supply of milk to different producers – smaller scale, local and more sustainable – is a valuable insight.
It would seem that this venture wasn’t successful, but I see others have taken up the challenge ( for example The Milk Station Company – https://themilkstationcompany.co.uk).
Now as we are urgently looking for ways of getting out of the vicious cycle of plastics, it seems like a vision of the future. I can see no reason why milk vending machines will not be part of the supermarkets of next year, as it will allow consumers to quickly and conveniently ditch the plastic bottles as they move to reusable and recycled containers. Of course, I can see that it will take time for the processors and dairies to make this shift, but the more foresighted will race to do it, as consumer pressure on plastics is going to lead to legislation. Analyses such as those from the FT points to the grave problems of the global recycling industry, which as citizens start to put this together with their consumption practices, the idea of post-consumption recycling is going to take a hit.
As this experiment was intended it will also give smaller producers a road into the market, as local and small scale will have some advantages in this situation, as bottling will be less of an issue. I am now looking forward to seeing the first vending milk machines appearing in my local shops.