Dairy maker to reset milk to net zero by 2035

Friday, 16 April, 2021

Dairy maker to reset milk to net zero by 2035

Finnish dairy and food company Valio has committed to limiting the environmental impact of its production chain to an increase of no more than 1.5°C, in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

There are many things that affect milk’s carbon footprint — from the energy used at the farm to the milk refining, packaging and logistics. Valio is aiming for reduced emissions throughout the entire production chain.

The emission reduction target for milk is 50% on the farm level, 47% on the plant level and 28% on the milk collection logistics level by 2030, compared to the levels in 2019. The company is also aiming to reduce emissions for a net zero carbon footprint for milk by the year 2035.

To achieve these goals, the company is implementing initiatives such as smart farming; biogas-fuelled milk trucks; manure recycling technology; improving the energy efficiency of plants; using more renewable energy for milk pasteurising, cooling and cold storage; and using recycled plastic cheese packaging and plant-based milk cartons.

“When we talk about resetting the carbon footprint of Valio’s entire operation and value chain, it is inevitable to assess our environmental work through an external, trustworthy party in a credible, transparent and science-based manner,” said Juha Nousiainen, Valio SVP, Carbon neutral milk chain.

“85 to 90% of milk and dairy products’ environmental impact is generated in primary production, before the milk is brought to a dairy. It is however important that the industrial and logistics emissions are monitored and reduced in various ways. In accordance with our targets, we are aiming to cut milk’s environmental impact in half by 2030.

“With such a challenge, we must understand what generates carbon emissions and what are the profitable ways to reduce them,” said Nousiainen.

Valio’s farm-specific carbon balance monitoring uses the CARBO environmental calculator, which was developed with Finland’s climate and conditions in mind. It is designed to help dairy farms calculate their own environmental impact and figure out the most effective ways to reduce it.

“Actions that reduce emissions, such as carbon farming, higher grass harvest, animal wellbeing and improving feed use, also improve the farms’ productivity and profitability. Productivity and climate efficiency are not at conflict with each other, and it can also be a motivator for dairy farmers,” said Nousiainen.

The IPCC’s most accurate calculation guidelines, which Valio uses, includes all factors from the fertiliser used on the farms’ fields to the fuel they use. The calculation model is based on Valio’s development work over the past decades, and it is Carbon Trust certified.

“What’s needed at the foundation of our climate work are reliable carbon footprint figures, but the most important thing is the work on the carbon footprint; that is, what changes we are making. One of the most important features of the CARBO climate calculator is to identify the effect of our climate work on reducing our carbon footprint,” Nousiainen said.

To read more about the company’s plan, visit https://www.valio.com/carbon-footprint-2035/.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/КРИСТИНА Игумнова

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