Dairy UK, the body that represents Britain’s milk farmers and dairy processors, yesterday (17 June) issued a new biodiversity commitment to enhance biodiversity at a processing plant level.

The association pledged to increase the sustainability of the industry through implementing new measures such as complementary planting of native plant species on site; introducing nesting facilities for birds and allowing natural regeneration of wild plant species.

Sites will also be endeavouring to engage with local communities in sustainability initiatives, including working with local conservation groups, holding education days or hosting local clean up operations.

In addition to biodiversity initiatives, dairies will also be expected to continue ensuring sites monitor and moderate the impact of energy and water usage and waste disposal.

Dairy UK chief executive Dr Judith Bryans said: “The dairy processing industry recognises the importance of preserving the natural environment and is dedicated to taking steps towards enhancing biodiversity in its own way.

“There is no end point when it comes to sustainability. It is important to reflect on our achievements so far and to become more environmentally sustainable through best practices and new commitments.”

Dairy Roadmap

Dairy UK had surveyed processing sites – which turn milk into dairy products ready for human consumption – to assess their biodiversity. It found that many sites were limited by urban or industrial locations. However, all sites were found to be receptive to small-scale initiatives to enhance diversity around the site.

This subsequent commitment comes as part of the industry’s Dairy Roadmap, a collaborative undertaking to address environmental issues in the dairy industry across the supply chain.

Dairy firms have taken some significant steps take steps to ensure embed sustainability in recent years – such as Wyke Farms which last year opened a new processing plant in which aimed to close the loop on the site’s wastewater, saving the firm up to 850,000 litres of water per day.

Bioeconomy funding

In related biodiversity news this week, the University of York has secured over £2M of Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funding to help grow the UK’s bioeconomy.

The  HEFCE has provided £2.4m from its Catalyst Fund, which will be invested in a programme to bridge the gap between the world-class science base at the University of York and the needs of industry to develop and scale-up new greener processes and products.

Professor Deborah Smith, pro-vice-chancellor for research at the University of York and chair of the BioVale steering group, said: “This funding is critical to establish the entrepreneurship and technology transfer needed to boost the UK bioeconomy and strengthen the links between the regional research base and bio-based industry.”

Matt Field

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