Dairy Crest is set to phase out milk in glass bottles, with all milk delivered by its doorstep delivery men and women to be switched to plastic bottles over the next two years.

The processor – which owns the Milk & More doorstep delivery service – today announced plans to close its glass bottle dairy, in Hanworth, in two years’ time. Once the plant closes, Dairy Crest will no longer produce any milk in glass bottles and its milkmen and women will deliver milk only in plastic bottles.

Demand for milk in glass bottles had dropped dramatically in recent decades as consumers preferred the convenience of plastic bottles, the company said. Glass bottles accounted for just 4% of milk sales in 2012, down from, 94% in 1975.

Plastic was also able to hold its own against glass from a sustainability perspective, Dairy Crest said, with “independent benchmarking commissioned by Dairy Crest [confirming] that across the supply chain as a whole, delivering milk in plastic bottles, which are lighter and increasingly made from recycled material, is now as environmentally friendly as glass.”

Dairy Crest stressed it was committed to helping its doorstep delivery men and women to adapt to changing consumer needs.

“At Hanworth nothing is going to change immediately, but sales of milk in glass bottles are falling and we have to give our employees at Hanworth clarity over the dairy’s future,” said Dairy Crest CEO Mark Allen. “We also have to let our milkmen and women know that we are doing all we can to protect their livelihoods.  By offering residential customers the same great-tasting British milk from the same farmers as we do now in plastic bottles we are doing just that.”