They may not be a big hit with consumers yet, but square, flat-topped milk jugs are the best thing since sliced bread, at least as far as Sam's Club is concerned. Earlier this summer, the Wal- Mart subsidiary rolled out the square gallon-sized jugs, which can be stacked four-high, shipped, and stored without bulky, protective milk crates. According to a Sam's Club press release, the new stacking configuration saves so much space that the retailer can ship the same amount of milk in half the number of trucks. That simple change is freeing up dock doors, warehouse space, and labor, and it's saving enough on fuel and freight costs to yield a 10- to 20-cent price cut for consumers.
The environmental benefits of the innovative packaging, designed by a large Midwestern dairy, are nothing to sneeze at. Fewer trips mean fewer emissions of greenhouse gases, of course. The design also eliminates the need to wash and sanitize milk crates. Plus the cardboard trays and shrinkwrap that have replaced the crates for shipping are recyclable.
The one hitch so far: Consumers are having a tough time getting used to pouring from the spoutless jugs.