While World Milk Day (01 June 2020) may not be everyone’s cup of tea, or should I say ‘milk’, the team and residents at Arcare Glenhaven aged care were over the ‘moooo’-n about it, for one very special reason!
This year, Arcare honoured one of its own residents, Geoff Milton (95 yo) who was one of the original creators of Australia’s iconic plastic milk crate.
Geoff was a Development Engineer at the Dairy Farmers Cooperative Milk Company, tasked with developing a product to replace the problematic wooden and wire crates that were currently in the market in the 1950s.
When the industry was coming into the mechanical age, machines took over packing. The milk bottles would often get stuck on the wire crates, causing the bottles to smash and spill all over the floor. This caused lengthy delays, halting production for clean-up.
Coincidentally, Nally Plastics (located in St Peters NSW) met with Geoff at the same time about another project and this is where he mentioned the need for a plastic crate to carry the milk. The rest, as they say, is history!
The original design started in the early ’60s, version two came about in 1964 and the version that we still use today was developed in the early ’70s. As the original was so well thought out and purposefully designed, not a lot of modifications were required.
According to Geoff, the original production was thought to cost about $20,000 (roughly $1,000,000 if you were to develop it today). The dye to make it was the most costly component.
The plastic milk crate became an overnight success in Australia. They were producing 1,000 per week when it first started being used. Interestingly, in the USA there was another product with the same premise in the works that hit the market at about the same time.
Geoff had no idea his invention for dairy farmers would also assist children with housing their toys, collectors with their music records, and hip cafes with their seating (and of course, much more!)
“I guess I feel quite proud that it has lasted almost as long as I have. I’m 95 years old so it will be good to see it outlive me,” Geoff says.
“For me, it wasn’t really a project, it was just my job. What I enjoyed most about working on the milk crate was that it solved a real problem we had with our processing line. I was just happy to fix the problem because that was my job.”
Arcare Glenhaven Lifestyle Coordinator Chloe Bernard says “Glenhaven celebrates and supports the individual lives and achievements of all its residents.”
The team spent the day making milkshakes and hosted a themed quiz for the residents in honour of Geoff.
Geoff also shared stories and experiences of creating the crate with a small group of residents and staff.