At Nestlé UK & Ireland we work with the Science Based Targets Initiative to understand our total dairy industry carbon footprint, where the big levers of change are, and the areas we need to address most urgently. A quarter of global emissions comes from food, and gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are produced at different stages of dairy farming. Even though carbon dioxide has relatively week warming effects, they are permanent, another reason to act severely in the fight against reducing the dairy industry carbon footprint.
Emma Keller, Head of Sustainability, Nestlé UK&I explains our approach and how we’re applying this to reduce our dairy carbon footprint :
“We look at product life cycles. Many companies use databases that consolidate research on ingredients and products but, where possible, we try to collect primary data from our farmers and suppliers, so we can understand the impact of our supply chain and look at the impact of our interventions.
For example, at Nestlé, we source eight per cent of Scottish dairy. So, we’ve been working with Scottish dairy farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the value chain.
To achieve this, we collaborate closely with farmers to understand their needs, to understand their farms better, and to help them put in new practices. These might include aspects like looking after animal health better, replanting hedgerows and marginal land, or changing tillage practices. This attracts biodiversity, and supports the whole landscape - not just the farm. And together they add up to make a positive impact on the actual yield. So, farmers can make more, while at the same time making a powerful impact on the environment and ecosystem.
As a result, we’ve already made significant greenhouse gas savings, and we’re well on the way to achieving our target of 50% reduction in our milk carbon footprint by 2025.”
Will dairy carbon footprint adapt to climate change?
Milk is one of the most nutritious and versatile foods, globally people rely on the dairy sector for their livelihoods, either through farming directly or employment. The UK dairy industry has made progress towards improving its sustainability and has already reduced its dairy carbon footprint by 24% between 1990 and 20151. However, there needs to be further efforts to meet the governments legislation that commits the UK to a net zero target for all GHG emissions by 2050.
The way to reduce and improve the dairy industry carbon footprint is to improve the overall efficiency of dairy farms, which has the added benefit of reducing costs as well as the carbon footprint. No two dairy farms are the same, therefore the effort to reduce the dairy industry carbon footprint needs to be developed according to the individual GHG emission for each farm. It can be possible to actively play a part in the reduction of milk carbon footprint but it isn’t an overnight process.