Don’t Cry Over Spoiled Milk: Interventions to Reduce Milk Waste

Student | Elizabeth Lee
Faculty | Danielle Trofe
School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Sustainable Design Certificate Program

Dairy is one of the most frequently wasted food items, and food waste contributes to significant greenhouse gas emissions.

This project identified two key intervention points (homes, stores), and several strategies (smart packaging, reclamation, and education) to reduce milk waste. 1/6 of milk produced is currently wasted; based on GHG emission data for dairy production, reducing/eliminating that waste would remove up to 62.5B kg of CO2 from the atmosphere.

This project identified several intervention points and mechanisms to reduce milk waste throughout the system, including reducing pre and post-consumer waste with smart packaging, increasing awareness and education about waste, and repurposing the principal protein from “spoiled” milk, casein, in different applications.

10% of food waste happens at stores, and 42% happens in the home. Confusion over labeling plays a big role.

This smart cap changes color due to VOC emission when milk spoils, reducing waste due to
confusion over expiration dates.
This reusable at-home bottle changes color when milk pH changes, revealing a message when milk starts to spoil.

This cap can be used with any standard milk bottle, and changes color when VOCs are emitted by spoiled milk.

To educate children about milk waste, this home science experiment to produce bioplastic from milk can be printed on the packaging.