Square milk jug

Last updated
Square milk jug side.JPG

The square milk jug is a variant of the plastic gallon (3.785 litres) container of milk commonly sold in the United States. [1] The design was introduced in the summer of 2008 [1] and is marketed as environmentally friendly because of the shape's advantages for shipping and storage (better cube efficiency).


Square milk jugs are stackable and 9% more can be shipped in the same space. [1] They also eliminate the need for milk crates, which are required for traditional bell-shaped jugs. [2]

Pouring technique

The technique used to pour milk from a square milk jug is different from that of a traditional milk jug. A Sam's Club representative suggests "tilt it slowly and pour slowly" [3] and a dairy owner in Yerington, Nevada, where some square milk jugs are filled, described the pouring technique as "rock-and-pour instead of a lift-and-tip". [3]


Environmental benefits and cost savings are the primary stated benefits of square milk jugs, although there are noticeable trade-offs.

Because more milk fits on each truck, shipping costs can be reduced by half; this reduces the number of trucks on the road each year by 11000 (US estimate). Stores that required five shipments per week in traditional containers now only require two, resulting in lower fuel consumption. [4] Instead of being packed in reusable crates, the square jugs are shrink wrapped for shipment; however, the hundreds of square feet of single-use polyethylene film "stretch wrap" used on each pallet raises significant new environmental concerns. If one pallet uses approximately 175 linear feet of film, a 40 x 48 inch pallet 6 feet tall will hold 80 cubic feet or 360 gallons of milk (given 4.5 gallons of milk per cubic foot), and require 1,056 square feet of film, equaling just under 3 square feet of film per gallon. [5] Only around 5% of stretch wrap is actually recycled; the remainder contributes to significant environmental fallout.

Manufacturers claim that this rectangular design has cut water use by 67% to 70%, according to one dairy, since there are no crates to be cleaned; the absence of dirty crates also reduces the risk of jugs carrying contamination. [3] There is also the reduced cost with no crates to be stolen: Pennsylvania dairies alone spent US$6 million replacing milk crates in 2005, mostly from theft. [6]


Critics of square milk jugs have noted increased spillage and difficulty pouring. [3] This is a problem specific to the Gallon size that has a much larger mass when first opened.

There are also cost advantages resulting from lower shipping costs for the retailer and these can be passed on to the consumer. The cost to a consumer of a gallon of milk in a square milk jug is 10¢ to 20¢ cheaper than a gallon of milk in a traditional milk jug. [3] [7]

The top of a square milk jug. The ability to stack the square jugs was promoted as a cost saving improvement to the design. Milk jug top.png
The top of a square milk jug. The ability to stack the square jugs was promoted as a cost saving improvement to the design.

Because square milk jugs can be stacked, they require less labor at the dairy, and can be packaged more quickly, which allows the milk to be shipped sooner, providing fresher milk to the retailer. [8] The wide mouth is also easier to fill which reduces the likelihood of spillage and the sanitary issues caused by milk getting on the container. [1]

The shape of the jug also allows more milk to be stored in a milk cooler. One Sam's Club store reported fitting 224 square gallon jugs in an area that only held 80 traditional one gallon jugs. [3] [7]


Square milk jugs have been adopted by some Wal-Mart, Costco and Sam's Club stores. [3]

Consumers have criticized the square milk jug for being difficult to pour, especially for children. [3] When tilted shallowly, the larger opening (larger than a traditional milk jug), combined with its small lip, generates a wide stream of milk. [9] This causes spills and leaks onto the sides of the container. [9]

Some Sam's Club stores offered lessons on pouring, complete with complimentary cookies. [3] Concern was also raised on the issue of the narrower base of the square jug, which allows it to be stored in the door of many refrigerators. Milk stored in this area may be more prone to spoiling due to frequent drastic changes in temperature. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

Milk white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals

Milk is a nutrient-rich liquid food produced in the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to its young and can reduce the risk of many diseases. It contains many other nutrients including protein and lactose. Interspecies consumption of milk is not uncommon, particularly among humans, many of whom consume the milk of other mammals.

Grocery store Retail store that primarily sells food and other household supplies

A grocery store, grocer or grocery shop (U.K.), is a store primarily engaged in retailing a general range of food products, which may be fresh or packaged. In everyday U.S. usage, however, "grocery store" is a synonym for supermarket, and is not used to refer to other types of stores that sell groceries. In the U.K., shops that sell food are distinguished as grocers or grocery shops, though in everyday use, people usually use either the term "supermarket" or, for a smaller type of store that sells groceries, a "corner shop" or "convenience shop".

Costco American multinational chain of membership-only stores

Costco Wholesale Corporation is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only warehouse clubs. As of 2015, Costco was the second largest retailer in the world after Walmart, and the world's largest retailer of choice and prime beef, organic foods, rotisserie chicken, and wine as of 2016. In 2019, Costco was ranked #14 on the Fortune 500 rankings of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

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.

Packaging and labeling

Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packaging can be described as a coordinated system of preparing goods for transport, warehousing, logistics, sale, and end use. Packaging contains, protects, preserves, transports, informs, and sells. In many countries it is fully integrated into government, business, institutional, industrial, and personal use.


A pallet is a flat transport structure, which supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, a pallet jack, a front loader, a jacking device, or an erect crane. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped. Since its invention in the twentieth century, its use has dramatically supplanted older forms of crating like the wooden box and the wooden barrel, as it works well with modern packaging like corrugated boxes and intermodal containers commonly used for bulk shipping.

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.

Distribution center

A distribution center for a set of products is a warehouse or other specialized building, often with refrigeration or air conditioning, which is stocked with products (goods) to be redistributed to retailers, to wholesalers, or directly to consumers. A distribution center is a principal part, the order processing element, of the entire order fulfillment process. Distribution centers are usually thought of as being demand driven. A distribution center can also be called a warehouse, a DC, a fulfillment center, a cross-dock facility, a bulk break center, and a package handling center. The name by which the distribution center is known is commonly based on the purpose of the operation. For example, a "retail distribution center" normally distributes goods to retail stores, an "order fulfillment center" commonly distributes goods directly to consumers, and a cross-dock facility stores little or no product but distributes goods to other destinations.

Squround Container with a shape between a square and a round tub

A squround is a container whose shape is between a square and a round tub. It resembles an oval but is sometimes closer to a rectangle with rounded corners. These allow the contents to be easily scooped out of the container. The name is a portmanteau for "square round" (cartons), referring to a compromise between a square and a round carton. It is also sometimes known as the scround.

Glass milk bottle

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. 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.

Intermediate bulk container

Intermediate bulk containers are reusable, multi-use industrial-grade containers engineered for the mass handling, transport, and storage of liquids, semi-solids, pastes, or solids. The two main categories of IBC tanks are flexible IBCs and rigid IBCs.

Milk crate

Milk crates are square or rectangular interlocking boxes that are used to transport milk and other products from dairies to retail establishments.


Weigel's is a convenience store chain based in Powell, Tennessee with 68 locations in the East Tennessee region. They also own and operate Broadacre Dairy Inc, which processes milk, tea, juices, and eggnog for their convenience stores, as well as its own bakery, Red Barn Foods.

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.

Unit load

The term unit load refers to the size of an assemblage into which a number of individual items are combined for ease of storage and handling, for example a pallet load represents a unit load which can be moved easily with a pallet jack or forklift truck, or a container load represents a unit for shipping purposes. A unit load can be packed tightly into a warehouse rack, intermodal container, truck or boxcars, yet can be easily broken apart at a distribution point, usually a distribution center, wholesaler, or retail store for sale to consumers or for use.

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).

A shipping container is a container with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. Shipping containers range from large reusable steel boxes used for intermodal shipments to the ubiquitous corrugated boxes. In the context of international shipping trade, "container" or "shipping container" is virtually synonymous with "intermodal freight container," a container designed to be moved from one mode of transport to another without unloading and reloading.

Shelf-ready packaging

Shelf-ready packaging (SRP) and retail-ready packaging (RRP) refers to the packaging of a product so that it is delivered to a retailer in packaging which is optimized for efficient stocking and sale.

Rockview Farms was established in Downey, California, in 1927 by Bob Hops. In 1930, Mr. Joseph J. McCandless organized the dairy. In 1938, Rockview Farms won a gold medal in the raw milk exhibit at the Los Angeles County Fair. The McCandless brothers were selling retail with the help of Joseph McCandless' wife from Ireland.

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. 1 2 3 4 Marks, Tod. "Love 'em or hate 'em: Those new-fangled milk containers at big club stores". Consumer Reports. Retrieved February 3, 2009.
  2. 1 2 Jackson, Matthew. "Costco's square milk jug curses milk consumers". Washington. The Daily. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Rosenbloom, Stephanie (June 30, 2008). "Solution, or Mess? A Milk Jug for a Green Earth". New York. The New York Times . Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  4. Hoffman, William. "Sustaining Sustainability". Florida Shipper. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  5. PalletWrapz.com. "Cost Savings Analysis" . Retrieved 14 August 2015.
  6. Brat, Ilan (June 6, 2006). "Police ask: got milk crates?". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via the Wall Street Journal). Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  7. 1 2 Tracy, Ben (June 30, 2008). "Milk Jug Gets A Makeover". CBS News. Retrieved January 7, 2009.
  8. 1 2 Mick, Jason. "Cheaper, Stackable, "Green" Milk Jugs Cause a Stir". Daily Tech. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 9, 2009.
  9. 1 2 Jackson, Matthew. "Costco's square milk jug curses milk consumers". The Daily. Retrieved January 8, 2009. The handle on the opposite corner is both surprisingly slender and awkwardly close to the top. It is a container suited for fertilizer, gasoline, deicer or marbles. I would not use it for food.