We go through a lot of milk in our house. I mean, a lot. 3-4 gallons for the three of us. (A little less now that we're not making hot chocolate every time we come in out of the cold. ;) But it always comes in plastic jugs around here. (To buy the paper half gallons would be roughly twice as expensive.) And I hate knowing that we're contributing so much waste through a single-use plastic container like that! So, I wrote to one of the local dairies, the Matanuska Creamery. I explained that I think they would benefit from a sort of dairy CSA, and why I think this.
First of all, a lot of the breweries in the state have growlers, glass jugs that the customer pays for once and can refill as desired. Obviously it wouldn't work quite so well to have the customer make a trip to the dairy every time they want milk, but I think the same principle can be applied. Have the dairy customers pay a small fee for the glass growlers, and then have a set order in every week that can be picked up at a set location (like HG Market), and the old growlers can be returned at the same time.
The dairy benefits because the customer would be completely loyal to their milk (why buy milk at the store, unless you absolutely have to, when you know you have better quality, local milk on a regular basis?) and through lower costs. I can't imagine it's cheap for them to go through all of those plastic jugs. Even if the glass ones cost more up-front, not only do you have the customer paying that fee but you then reduce the costs of operating the dairy. I think this would also bring the price of local milk down to make it more competitive with Outside milk. (As it stands, grocery stores take a loss here on milk shipped in from out of state because, essentially, they can. They make enough money from everything else in the store that they can take a hit on the shipping and storing costs of milk. Local dairies and businesses can't. Rather insidious, isn't it?)
The benefit to the customer would be lower costs, more regular supply (sometimes difficult around here--it either gets bought out to quickly or something like road closures prevents delivery), and of course less waste.
And for a pickup/dropoff point, HG Market and businesses like it would work very well. They would benefit from the increased exposure to their business and the increased traffic to their store.
What's better than a win-win-win? I'll let you know what they say when I get a response.