Avonmore has announced that it has switched to paper straws on its milk supplies for over 240 schools nationwide under the School Milk Scheme, saving 2.7t of plastic per annum.
The announcement comes as schools all over the world celebrate World School Milk Day today, Wednesday, September 29.
Avonmore School Milk, which comes in recyclable Tetra Pak cartons, is a Glanbia Ireland brand, and it distributes milk to primary schools around the country through the EU School Milk Scheme.
It has operated in Ireland since 1982. The scheme promotes and encourages the consumption of milk among school children, cultivating healthy eating habits and giving pupils the opportunity to connect to agriculture.
School milk for nutrition
As part of a balanced diet, the Department of Health’s ‘Food Pyramid’ recommends three daily servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group for 5-8 year-olds, and five daily servings for 9-18 year-olds.
Serving examples include 200ml of milk, 125g of yogurt or 25g of cheese. Low-fat varieties are recommended and remain sources of essential nutrients including protein and calcium.
Glanbia Ireland marketing manager, Cara Millaney, said it’s a step in the right direction for the School Milk Scheme: “We provide seven million units of 180ml cartons of low-fat milk to primary schools nationwide every year.
“It is estimated that by switching from plastic to paper straws, Glanbia Ireland will prevent 2.7t of plastic from entering the environment each year.
“The new paper straws are certified fully recyclable and made with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper, indicating that the paper is from a well-managed, responsible source.
“At Avonmore, sustainability and community are top of our agenda. That is why we’ve pledged that 100% of our packaging will be compatible with the circular economy by 2025,” she added.
It is one of over a dozen science-based targets set out in Glanbia Ireland’s recently-launched ‘Living Proof’ sustainability strategy.
Millaney continued: “We aim to leave our planet in a better place for future generations such as the primary school students drinking our fresh milk each day.”
Glanbia Ireland Chairman John Murphy added that they are proud supporters of the School Milk Scheme: “We are delighted to bring top quality, nutritious milk from family farms in our catchment area to schools all over Ireland.
“Sustainable dairy is at the heart of our processes. The move to more environmentally friendly straws is another step on our sustainability journey and Glanbia Ireland’s commitment to delivering on our ‘Living Proof’ promises on plastics, packaging and carbon reduction.”
National Dairy Council
The National Dairy Council (NDC) nutrition manager, Dr. Marianne Walsh, said: “Milk is a natural, delicious and nutritious drink and can play an important role as part of a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
“For children and teenagers aged 9-18 years, the Food Pyramid recommends five servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group per day, due to the importance of calcium during this life stage.
“Milk is an excellent source of calcium, which is a key nutrient for the normal growth, development, and maintenance of our bones. This is especially important in growing children,” Walsh continued.
According to NDC, Irish cow’s milk typically comprises 87% water; provides carbohydrate; high-quality protein; and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B12; vitamin B2; iodine; phosphorus; and potassium.
The School Milk Scheme is managed by the NDC and is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with the support of the European Union.