UK milk producers to report on carbon

Supermarkets and major food manufacturers are becoming increasingly concerned about the environmental performance of their suppliers while incoming government legislation will require large processing plants to join a carbon trading scheme.

With these drivers in place, it seems like common sense for the UK’s milk industry, from farmers to super dairies, to start counting its carbon.

Working with the Carbon Trust, trade body Dairy UK has announced plans for an industry-wide carbon footprinting guide.

Reducing carbon emissions is just one of the targets laid out for the industry in the Milk Roadmap, a document published in April 2008 that looks at a wider environmental picture.

The roadmap sets targets for packaging of milk and other dairy products, energy and water use, land stewardship and animal welfare.

Euan Murray, carbon footprinting general manager, Carbon Trust said: “Milk is an important part of most UK consumers’ daily lives.

“We are really pleased to be working with Dairy UK to help the whole dairy sector develop specific guidance on carbon footprinting.

“Building a consistent and accurate footprint is a key step towards managing and reducing carbon emissions from agriculture.”

Dairy UK environment manager Fergus McReynolds added: “This project represents a real stride forward for the dairy sector.

“Businesses from farmers to major processors will finally have access to a single set of carbon footprinting guidelines.

“With full Carbon Trust accreditation, this will become the standard for the sector, allowing true comparisons between different businesses and winning the confidence of the retailers.”

The announcement comes on the same day that Defra published a progress report on the Milk Roadmap, showing that processors and farmers are on track to meet their first set of 2010 milestones.

Some dairy companies are even likely to exceed targets on incorporating recycled plastic into milk bottles, cutting energy use and environmental benchmarking.

Data collected by Dairy UK show that processors have gone further, cutting water use by 20%, energy use by 10% and raising waste recycling or reuse to 76% since 2006.

Mr McReynolds added: “Despite the rigours of recession, the Roadmap process is very much on track.

“We must keep showing our critics that dairy’s environmental footprint is falling and there can be no reason to reduce consumption.”

Sam Bond

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