UK dairy sector cuts emissions by 24%

23 May 2018

The UK dairy sector has significantly reduced its environmental footprint over the last 10 years, according to Dairy UK.

Dairy UK chairman Paul Vernon told a meeting of MPs and dairy sector figures the sector had made “outstanding progress” and he outlined plans to ensure that the British dairy supply chain “continued to be world-leading in environmental sustainability”.

The Dairy Roadmap 2018 said the sector had reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk production by 24% since 2008.

It has also achieved a 24% improvement in water efficiency and an 18% improvement in energy efficiency.

Additionally 85% of milk containers made from HDPE, a kind of thermoplastic, were now recycled and the proportion of waste sent to landfill from had been cut from 35% to 4%.

The UK is currently the third largest producer of milk in the Europe and the tenth largest globally, employing more than 70,000 people in the UK and representing 15% of the value of agricultural produce in the UK.

Among the 2020 targets for dairy processors three have already been achieved.

These are a 15% improvement in energy efficiency, a 20% relative reduction in water brought onto site and a 20% reduction in "chemical oxygen demand" in discharged effluent.

Other objectives include having zero ex-factory waste sent to landfill and 50% of recycled material in HDPE milk bottles and all tertiary packaging to be reusable or recyclable.

Further targets for 2025 include a 30% relative reduction in carbon related to energy use at processing sites, a 30% relative reduction in net water brought onto site, and a 30% reduction in food waste from site.

Dairy processors also aim to enhance and promote action to improve biodiversity, develop and implement an industry standard for environmental sustainability training and improve the design of dairy packaging to eliminate unnecessary single use plastic.

George Eustice minister of state for agriculture, fisheries and food said: “The dairy industry has made great strides in reducing its environmental footprint and it is great to see their ongoing progress to further increase the sustainability of this vital industry.”

Meanwhile environment secretary Michael Gove has launched the government’s Clean Air Strategy to cut pollution.

The government has pledged to take action to reduce ammonia from farming.

It said farming was responsible for 88% of ammonia emissions and farmers will required to invest in infrastructure and equipment to reduce emissions.

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