Fonterra promises schoolgirl, nine, to ditch single-use straws in Milk for Schools programme

Fonterra has promised a nine-year-old environmental crusader that it will immediately offer a way to ditch single-use plastic straws in its Milk for Schools programme.

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Fair Go got Ruby a meeting with the dairy giant, with surprising results. Source: Fair Go

“I don't think we need straws with our milk,” says Carolyn Mortland, Fonterra's director of sustainability.

Ruby Tauri from Kororāreka Russell School urged the dairy giant to “ditch the straws” as they are unnecessary, wasteful and potentially polluting.

“We don’t need to use these straws,” says Ruby.

“We just pop the milk with our finger.”

Fonterra has supplied schools with 128 million single-serve cartons of milk, each with a cellophane-wrapped straw.

“The wrapper is supposed to stay attached to the box, but it doesn't. People just throw it in the bin.” Ruby adds that’s the best outcome. Sometimes the wrappers blow away.

Ruby took her pitch to Fair Go as part of the show’s Consumer Heroes appeal.

It paired school-age kids with Fair Go journalists who supported them as they sought explanations and changes from major players in NZ business.

Fonterra had an immediate response to Ruby – bigger packs with no straws.

“One of the solutions we've got is to move away from a small 200m single serve pack to our 1 litre pack,” says Ms Mortland.

The shift will replace five smaller packs, further reducing waste.

Fonterra says schools can use up the single-serve packs on hand if they wish, but it can start supplying larger packs without straws straight away.

It will also look at other solutions to eliminate straws across its consumer range, in line with a plan to make all packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Ruby and her classmates remain very grateful to Fonterra for the milk – but are now excited that her appeal has been heard and acted on by the co-op and that it will start to ditch the straws.