Is the milkman making a comeback?
That may soon be the case at Hōhepa, which had its glass milk bottle plant dedicated by Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor on Thursday.
Returnable and reusable glass milk bottles were launched in November last year by Napier Mayor Kirsten Wise.
The glass milk bottling plant produces on average 500 bottles a week and provides part-time work for 10 people with intellectual disabilities.
The bottles are sold at the Hōhepa shop and delivered to other stockists. Buyers can return the bottle to where they bought it from for a $2 refund.
Another five people are involved in distribution.
And the staff are excited about the change, too.
Tessa Selwyn, who works labelling and stamping dates on the glass bottles on Fridays, says with great enthusiasm that the glass bottles are "fantastic".
"It's far better for the environment.
"The last bottles that we had they were not so good, we also had to throw them in the [recycling] but now we can keep glass bottles, we can put them back in the shop all the time.
"I'm quite proud of it."
She said getting all the new bottles was a really exciting time for Hōhepa, and the staff enjoyed being part of it.
The woodwork team also worked to make the crates for the bottles.
Hōhepa general manager Santiago De Marco said they had a long history of organic and biodynamic farming practices, so moving away from plastics had been an important goal.
It was important they made the sustainability changes while retaining the jobs for the people they support.
They hope to start home deliveries as the enterprise grows, hopefully by the end of the year.
"It's going back to having the milkman and that will also provide great engagement opportunities for the people we support."
O'Connor said the glass bottles were "back to the future" and something he is seeing happen around New Zealand.
He has known about Hōhepa for a long time, having been part of a family members support system, but wasn't aware of the extent of the farming operation and "innovation" happening there.
Hōhepa is also working on home compostable packaging for its cheeses.
Hōhepa milk is available in 1 litre returnable glass bottles from:
• Hōhepa, Clive.
• Napier & Hastings Farmers Markets.
• Chantal's Napier.
• Cornucopia Hastings.
• Clive Butchery.