Can Chocolate Milk Save the Environment?
September 21, 2016

Can Chocolate Milk Save the Environment?

 |  By: Mike Opperman

It can in Los Angeles.

Back in 2011 the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) decided to ban chocolate and strawberry-flavored milk from school lunches. Since then milk options are white low-fat 1%, white fat free and white non-fat lactose free. Seems like kids are filing their opinions of the change in the trash.

According to the story in the Los Angeles Times, more than 640,000 students are enrolled in the LAUSD. When a population that size dumps out two servings per day, it makes for an enormous garbage problem.

“Originally, they poured it down the drain,” says Robert Laughton, director of the LAUSD office of environmental health and safety. “But the city didn’t like milk going down the sewer system. You can’t put it down the storm drain, that’s against the law.” And the city doesn’t want it ending up in the wastewater treatment plant, so the solution is to pour it into black trash bags and put it in the trash bin. From there it goes to local landfills, where that much milk is creating quite a stink.

While this is creating problems in Los Angeles, changes to school lunch programs as part of the 2014 Farm Bill include allowing only fat-free flavored milks to be served in schools. This change has created an ongoing decline in the consumption of dairy products by schoolchildren, a trend that industry groups hope to change in the next Farm Bill iteration.

Perhaps then the tasty goodness of chocolate milk can help bring a little breathing room to Los Angeles landfills.