Glass milk bottle

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Pint and gallon returnable glass bottles Glass Milk Bottles.tif
Pint and gallon returnable glass bottles
Examples of milk bottles from the late 19th century made by the Warren Glass Works Company Milk Bottles of the Late 19th century.jpg
Examples of milk bottles from the late 19th century made by the Warren Glass Works Company

Glass milk bottles are glass bottles used for milk and are generally reusable and returnable. Milk bottles are used mainly for doorstep delivery of fresh milk by milkmen: retail store sale is available in some regions (with bottle deposit). After customers have finished the milk they are expected to rinse the empty bottles and leave it on the doorstep for collection, or return it to the retail store. The standard size of a bottle varies with location, common sizes are pint, quart, Litre, etc.


More recently, plastic bottles have been commonly used for milk. These are often made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), are used only once, and are easily recyclable. [1] Other Plastic milk containers are also in use.


A modern British milk bottle owned by Dairy Crest. Dairy Crest Semi Skimmed Milk Bottle.jpg
A modern British milk bottle owned by Dairy Crest.
Seven modern Dairy Crest milk bottles. Milk Bottles on Doorstep.jpg
Seven modern Dairy Crest milk bottles.

Before the emergence of milk bottles, milkmen would fill the customers' jugs. For many collectors, milk bottles carry a nostalgic quality of a bygone age. The most prized milk bottles are embossed or pyroglazed (painted) with names of dairies on them, which were used for home delivery of milk so that the milk bottles could find their way back to their respective dairies.

It is not clear when the first milk bottles came into use. Extending from the 1860s to the 1890s, there were several experimental "jars" that were not patented but, nonetheless, used to carry milk. The milk jar of the Tuthill Milk Company/Tuthill's Dairy of Unionville is an example of one of these early jars that features a ground lip and a pontiled base. Other early milk jars during this time include the Mackworh "Pure Jersey Cream" crockery jar, the Manorfield Stock Farm jar, the Manor, and the PA wide-mouth jar. In 1878, George Henry Lester patented the first glass jar intended to hold milk. [2] This jar featured a glass lid that was held on the jar by a metal clamp. In the same year that Lester invented his milk jar, the Brooklyn milk dealer Alex Campbell is credited with first selling milk in experimental glass bottles. These bottles likely did not resemble common milk bottles.

Lewis P. Whiteman held the first patent for a glass milk bottle with a small glass lid and a tin clip. [3] Following this, the next earliest patent is for a milk bottle with a dome-type tin cap and was granted in September 23, 1884 to Whiteman's brother, Abram V. Whiteman. [4] The Whiteman brothers produced milk bottles based on these specifications at the Warren Glass Works Company in Cumberland, Maryland and sold them through their New York sales office.

The Original Thatcher is one of the most desirable milk bottles for collectors. The patent for the glass dome lid is dated April 27, 1886. There are several variations of this early milk bottle and many reproductions. During this time period, many types of bottles were being used to hold and distribute milk. These include a pop bottle type with a wire clamp, used by the Chicago Sterilized Milk Company, Sweet Clover, and others. Fruit jars were also used, but only the Cohansey Glass Manufacturing plant made them with dairy names embossed on them.

The Commonsense Milk Bottle with the first cap seat was developed as an economical means for sealing a reusable milk bottle by the Thatcher Manufacturing Company around 1900. Most bottles produced after this time have a cap seat.

By the 1920s, glass milk bottles had become the norm in the UK after slowly being introduced from the US before World War I. [5]

Milk bottles before the 1930s were round in shape. In 1935 slender-neck bottles were introduced in the UK. [5] In the 1940s, a square squat bottle became the more popular style. Milk bottles since the 1930s have used pyroglaze or ACL (Applied Color Label) to identify the bottles. Before the 1930s, names were embossed on milk bottles using a slug plate. The name was impressed on the slug plate, then the plate was inserted into the mold used to make the bottle – the result was the embossed name on the bottle. In 1980 a new bottle, nicknamed "dumpy," was introduced in the UK where it remains the standard now. [5]

From the 1960s onward in the United States, with improvements in shipping and storage materials, glass bottles have almost completely been replaced with either LDPE coated paper cartons or recyclable HDPE plastic containers (such as square milk jugs), depending on the brand. These paper and plastic containers are lighter, cheaper and safer to both manufacture and ship to consumers. [6]

In 1975, 94% of milk in the UK was in glass bottles, but as of 2012 this number was down to 4%. [5]

There are growing concerns among some Americans as to the quality and safety of industrialized milk, and the local non-homogenized milk industry has seen a popular resurgence in certain markets in the US in the last decade or so. Because of this, the use of glass bottles in local or regional, non-industrial milk distribution has become an increasingly common sight. [7]


Present day

In some locations around the world, different colored tops on milk bottles indicate the fat content. Unpasteurized is often green-topped. However other colour designations may be used by some dairies. Bottles may also be marked, stamped or embossed with the name of the dairy.

In the United Kingdom, the aluminium foil tops on glass milk bottles are normally coloured:[ citation needed ]

Gold Channel Island milk [10]
SilverWhole milk (unhomogenized) [10]
RedHomogenized whole milk [10]
Red & Silver stripeSemi-skimmed milk[ citation needed ]
Dark Blue & Silver stripe Skimmed milk [ citation needed ]
Orange1% Fat milk[ citation needed ]

Historically, other colors such as Pink for Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) processed milk, were also used. [10] Blue was previously used for so termed, 'sterilized' milk. [10]

Modern dairies may also use refillable plastic bottles, as well as plastic bottle tops. The colour coding for plastic milk bottle tops can be different from that of glass bottles. In the United Kingdom, the plastic tops on plastic milk bottles are normally coloured:

ColourMeaning[ citation needed ]
GoldChannel Island milk
BlueHomogenized whole milk
GreenSemi-skimmed milk
RedSkimmed milk
Orange1% Fat milk

In the United Kingdom, milk sold to the door is mainly measured in Imperial pints (but labelled 568ml), because the glass bottles are 'returnable', which means they were excluded from metrication.[ citation needed ] However, sterilized milk sold to the door is in 500ml glass bottles (and is 'non-returnable' and has colour coded lids that match the colour codes normally seen on plastic bottles). Often, in supermarkets they are sold in pints but labelled with their metric equivalent (568ml). Quantities larger than a pint are generally sold in metric units or multiples of a pint.

With lower milk consumption, milk in Hong Kong is sold in both glass and plastic bottles as well as in cartons. The glass milk bottles are sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and in small restaurants. The glass milk bottle carries a deposit of 1 Hong Kong dollar. More commonly available in the market in glass milk bottles are Kowloon Dairy and Trappist Dairy with different shaped glass milk bottles with both in school bottle size.

Orange juice and other fruit juices are also sold in doorstep deliveries in the same style of bottle used for milk. Typically these have an aluminium foil top colour coded to indicate the flavour[ citation needed ].

In some countries (e.g. Estonia and some provinces of Canada), it is common to buy milk in a milk bag.

While the proportion of sales in milk bags in the United Kingdom is quite low, semi-skimmed milk is sold in bags by Dairy Crest/Milk and More, and in Sainsbury's supermarket it is available in Whole milk, Semi-skimmed milk and Skimmed milk options. However supermarket availability is limited to larger branches.

School milk bottles

Small third of a pint glass milk bottles were developed in the United Kingdom during the mid 20th century in order to supply milk to children attending primary school. They were the most common form of packaging for school milk in the early 1970s, but have been gradually superseded by third pint cartons and plastic bottles. Leicester, South Tyneside, [11] Leeds, and Kirklees [12] were the last local authorities where school milk was supplied in third of a pint glass bottles until the dairies ceased using them in 2007.

Children usually drank their milk using a straw inserted into the bottle rather than poured the milk from the bottle into a cup.

A primary school child drinking milk out of a glass bottle with a straw Glass School Milk Bottle.jpg
A primary school child drinking milk out of a glass bottle with a straw

See also

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The pint is a unit of volume or capacity in both the imperial and United States customary measurement systems. In both of those systems it is traditionally one eighth of a gallon. The British imperial pint is about ​15 larger than the American pint because the two systems are defined differently. Almost all other countries have standardized on the metric system, so the size of what may be called a pint varies depending on local custom.

Ultra-high-temperature processing food sterilization process

Ultra-high temperature processing (UHT), ultra-heat treatment, or ultra-pasteurization is a food processing technology that almost sterilizes liquid food by heating it above 135 °C (275 °F) – the temperature required to kill many bacterial endospores – for 2 to 5 seconds. UHT is most commonly used in milk production, but the process is also used for fruit juices, cream, soy milk, yogurt, wine, soups, honey, and stews. UHT milk was first developed in the 1960s and became generally available for consumption in the 1970s.

Reuse of bottles

A reusable bottle is a bottle that can be reused, as in the case as by the original bottler or by end-use consumers. Reusable bottles have grown in popularity by consumers for both environmental and health safety reasons. Reusable bottles are one example of reusable packaging.

Container-deposit legislation

Container-deposit legislation is any law that requires the collection of a monetary deposit on beverage containers at the point of sale and/or the payment of refund value to the consumers. When the container is returned to an authorized redemption center, or retailer in some jurisdictions, the deposit is partly or fully refunded to the redeemer. It is a deposit-refund system.

Mason jar Molded glass jar used in home canning to preserve food

A Mason jar — named after John Landis Mason, who patented it in 1858 — is a molded glass jar used in home canning to preserve food. The jar's mouth has a screw thread on its outer perimeter to accept a metal ring or "band". The band, when screwed down, presses a separate stamped steel disc-shaped lid against the jar's rim. An integral rubber ring on the underside of the lid creates a hermetic seal. The bands and lids usually come with new jars, but they are also sold separately. While the bands are reusable, the lids are intended for single-use when canning. Glass jars and metal lids are still commonly used in home canning while they have been largely supplanted by other methods for commercial canning.

Bottle scraper

The bottle scraper is a Dutch kitchen tool similar to a small spatula. It is designed to scrape the contents of long bottles that would be impossible to reach with other kitchen tools. Although the tool is sold in Norway and has even been described in some accounts as having originated there, it is cited as a quintessentially Dutch tool as well as an example of Dutch thrift.

Glass bottle

A glass bottle is a bottle made from glass. Glass bottles can vary in size considerably, but are most commonly found in sizes ranging between about 200 millilitres and 1.5 litres. Common uses for glass bottles include food condiments, soda, liquor, cosmetics, pickling and preservatives. These types of bottles are utilitarian and serve a purpose in commercial industries.

Skimmed milk

Skimmed milk, or skim milk, is made when all the milkfat is removed from whole milk. It tends to contain around 0.1% fat.

Plastic milk container

Plastic milk containers are plastic containers for storing, shipping and dispensing milk. Plastic bottles, sometimes called jugs, have largely replaced glass bottles for home consumption. Glass milk bottles have traditionally been reusable while light-weight plastic bottles are designed for single trips and plastic recycling.

Tetra Pak

Tetra Pak is a Swedish-Swiss multinational food packaging and processing company with head offices in Lund, Sweden and Lausanne, Switzerland. The company offers packaging, filling machines and processing for dairy, beverages, cheese, ice cream and prepared food, including distribution tools like accumulators, cap applicators, conveyors, crate packers, film wrappers, line controllers and straw applicators.

Aseptic processing is a processing technique wherein commercially thermally sterilized liquid products are packaged into previously sterilized containers under sterile conditions to produce shelf-stable products that do not need refrigeration. Aseptic processing has almost completely replaced in-container sterilization of liquid foods, including milk, fruit juices and concentrates, cream, yogurt, salad dressing, liquid egg, and ice cream mix. There has been an increasing popularity for foods that contain small discrete particles, such as cottage cheese, baby foods, tomato products, fruit and vegetables, soups, and rice desserts.

Milk bag Plastic bags that contain milk

Milk bags are plastic bags that contain milk. They are usually stored in a pitcher or jug with one of the corners cut off to allow for pouring. A typical milk bag contains approximately 1 L (1.8 imp pt) of milk in South America, Iran, Israel, Eastern Europe and the Baltics, while in the UK they contain 2 imperial pints (1.1 L), in Canada 1 13 litres (2.3 imp pt), and in India, 0.5 L (0.9 imp pt).

Home canning

Home canning or bottling, also known colloquially as putting up or processing, is the process of preserving foods, in particular, fruits, vegetables, and meats, by packing them into glass jars and then heating the jars to create a vacuum seal and kill the organisms that would create spoilage.

Container deposit legislation in the United States Overview about the container deposit legislation in the United States

There are ten states in the United States with container deposit legislation, popularly called "bottle bills" after the Oregon Bottle Bill, the first such legislation that was passed.

Ecologic Brands, Inc. is an Oakland, California-based company that designs and manufactures bottles from recycled cardboard and newspaper.

Bottles are able to be recycled and this is generally a positive option. Bottles are collected via kerbside collection or returned using a bottle deposit system. reveals that just 14% of all plastic packaging is recycled globally PET bottles production is predicted to grow by about 5% a year. Currently just over half of plastic bottles are recycled globally About 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and only about 50% are recycled.

GreenBottle Ltd was the manufacturer of sustainable, paper-based liquids packaging. In 2017, Ecologic Brands Inc.,based in Manteca California, purchased the assets of the former GreenBottle.

Reusable packaging is manufactured of durable materials and is specifically designed for multiple trips and extended life. A reusable package or container is “designed for reuse without impairment of its protective function.” The term returnable is sometimes used interchangeably but it can also include returning packages or components for other than reuse: recycling, disposal, incineration, etc. Typically, the materials used to make returnable packaging include steel, wood, polypropylene sheets or other plastic materials.


  1. "2016 United States National Postconsumer Plastic Bottle Recycling Report" (PDF). Association of Plastic Rcyclers. 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  2. U.S. Patent 199837
  3. US patent number 225,900, granted March 23, 1880, filed on January 31, 1880
  4. US patent number 305,554, filed on January 31, 1880
  5. 1 2 3 4 Heyden, Tom (26 September 2014). "Nostalgia for an old-fashioned milk bottle". BBC News. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  6. Marie, Anne. "Is Milk an Acid or a Base?". Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  7. "Entertainment |". Retrieved 2018-09-20.
  8. "Thatcher Milk Bottle". Potsdam Public Museum.
  9. "Commercial vehicles: As it was in the beginning". National Transport Museum of Ireland.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 Sonia Allison (1978). The Dairy Book of Home Cookery (Revised Edition). Milk Marketing Board. p. 6.
  11. "Bring back our bottles!". South Tyneside Green Party. 28 November 2007. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008.
  12. "Whole lotta bottles better than cartons!". Huddersfield Examiner. 4 June 2007.