Arla Foods aims for 30% cut in emissions from milk as part of net-zero vision

Arla has a wide ranging plan to reduce its global emissions impact from dairy farming

The ambitious target accelerates the firm’s transition to sustainable dairy production and is part of its overall aim to be carbon net zero by 2050, with strategies to address climate, air, water and nature.

Issues around the impact of dairy farming on the climate have consistently been one of the big topics for addressing climate change globally. A cow can produce around 70 to 120kg of methane each year – the equivalent of 2,300kg of CO2 – with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) stating the overall agriculture sector is responsible for 18% of global emissions.

Arla Foods aims to mitigate the issue of emissions from a dairy value chain comes by reducing a cow’s methane emissions through a series of techniques, such as optimised feed composition. Additionally, the food firm is working with its farmers to quantify and increase the carbon captured and stored in the soil.

According to a recent analysis from the FAO, global milk production has become more sustainable with a global average of 2.5kg CO2 per kilo of milk, but Arla farmers aim, on average, for 1.15kg CO2 per kilo or half of the global level.

The company has conducted 5,000 climate assessments on its 10,300 farms since 2013, and now is accelerating the work through the use of a digital documentation system where farmers can input data about their herd, milking system, feed, grazing, land use, and animal welfare. It claims to be one of the largest dairy farm benchmarking datasets in Europe.

Dairy farmer and chairman of Arla Foods, Jan Toft Nørgaard, said: “The climate assessment is highly motivating because it identifies your farms’ potential for CO2 reductions, which will often lead to cost savings.

“A next step is to include parameters that will indicate the farm’s impact on climate and environment. This will give us an opportunity to see in which areas we have the biggest potential, to identify best practice farms that we can learn from across our cooperative.”

Farming initiatives

The news follows a number of initiatives by farmers and agriculture firms to mitigate the impact on the environment of their businesses.

In 2016, Wyke Farm, the UK’s largest independent cheese producer and milk processor, became the first British dairy farm to hold a Carbon Trust Standard triple certification for improving environmental performance across carbon emissions, water use and waste. It followed work that the business had done since 2013 to become the first national cheddar brand to use 100% green energy.

Additionally, last August, Northern Ireland-based dairy manufacturer Dale Farm announced it was now running one of its cheese manufacturing plants with 100% renewable energy after bringing a self-consumption solar farm online.

James Evison

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