“I had a milkman as a kid and I loved it,” Dominic Ryan, founder of milk delivery service Restore, tells Broadsheet. “It’s a lovely surprise to wake up to fresh produce that’s left the farm two days ago.”

The milkman, once a neighbourhood icon together with the postie, baker and iceman, was making rounds across Australian doorsteps until the 1980s – a true community essential. But thanks to the dominance of supermarkets and online shopping, the milkman has become a thing of the past – and a source of nostalgia for people like Ryan.

But as well as revisiting his childhood, Ryan also had an environmental mission in bringing milk delivery back into circulation with Restore.

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“[I was] astounded, shocked and disheartened,” he says, referring to the volume of single-use plastic his household was going through – ubiquitous plastic milk bottles being a particular offender. Thus, Restore was born. Ryan’s business delivers milk in re-used, recyclable glass containers around Sydney’s lower north shore – and is soon to expand to the inner west.

It all happens on Fridays, when Ryan delivers single-source Jersey milk ($5.85 for 750 millilitres), plus Sydney-made oat milk ($5.85 for 750 millilitres) and Greek yoghurt from Marrickville’s Evia ($9.60 for 485 grams). The milk, from family-owned Tilba Dairy in regional New South Wales, was chosen especially. “It’s the best-tasting milk in New South Wales,” Ryan says.

Ryan’s aim is to cut plastic waste in Mosman and North Sydney council areas by 3000 kilograms in 2024. And locals are on board: in a survey he conducted, 95 per cent of respondents stated they were “highly concerned” about the plastic piling up in their bins. “People are motivated, and they want to get involved.”

Ryan is also passionate about supporting dairy farmers – by buying straight from the source – who are struggling under the pressure of supermarket prices and climate-related challenges.

The New South Wales Return and Earn scheme doesn’t allow the return of plastic milk bottles, whereas Restore follows a closed-loop philosophy. The empty glass bottles are collected from customers, washed, refilled and reused – 24 times, to be exact.

Residents of Mosman and North Sydney can subscribe to their dairy deliveries online, opting for weekly or fortnightly deliveries. Live in the inner west? You’re next. Keep a lookout for your postcode in Restore’s delivery areas.

Restore is currently delivering Tilba Dairy’s Jersey milk, plus Sydney-made oat milk and Greek yoghurt to suburbs on the lower north shore. The inner west is currently in a pilot program.