Mapping out a greener future for dairy
The global dairy industry is thriving. Thanks to factors like population growth, urbanisation, rising incomes and the westernisation of diets, demand for dairy only continues to soar.
But with increased demand, comes increased production levels. And, for a sector that’s already under the spotlight for its contribution towards greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the pressure is on to take immediate action and limit its impact on climate change.
Mapping out green success
The good news is that, according to Dairy UK, the British dairy supply chain is considered ‘world-leading’ in its environmental sustainability, and this is largely thanks to the Dairy Roadmap.
Launched in 2008 and led by Dairy UK, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), the Dairy Roadmap has brought the entire industry together (be that processors, farmers or other stakeholders) to minimise the impact of milk and dairy production in the UK. Over the past 12 years, there has been major, impressive progress.
In fact, according to Dairy UK’s latest benchmarking report processors have taken major strides in enhancing efficiencies across the board. 2020 results show they have increased energy efficiency by 20% (kWh/tonne); decreased energy-related carbon per kg of milk by 17% (kgCO2/kg); increased water efficiency by 20% (m3/tonne); recycled or recovered 94% of ex-factory waste; and achieved an average of 23% recycled content by weight across all packaging.
While this is all incredibly encouraging, the Dairy Roadmap recognises that the hard work does not end there. If the industry is to meet its own ambitious targets for 2025, and the UK government’s legally-binding target of net zero for all GHG emissions by 2050, then there’s still a way to go.
The Dairy Roadmap sets out ambitious environmental targets across the entire supply chain, and these are broken down into key areas: climate and energy, water, waste and recycling, biodiversity, soil, and air quality. Given the energy-intensive nature of dairy production, it’s no surprise that energy efficiency continues to sit firmly at the top of the agenda for processors.
That said, strong progress has been made so far, and efficiency has improved by 20%. And that’s not the only achievement. The industry has pledged its commitment to the government’s Industrial Decarbonisation and Energy Efficiency Action Plan, eliminated widespread use of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, increased fuel efficiency, and begun phasing out Euro4 engines across dairy delivery fleets.
So, what’s the next efficiency hurdle for processors? The pledge for 2025 is to reduce the carbon emissions associated with the dairy production process by a significant 30%. To meet this target, the industry has recognised it needs to adopt cleaner, greener fuels.
Goodbye oil, hello greener gas
To date, dairy manufacturers operating off-grid in rural locations have typically relied on oil to power their operations, using the likes of kerosene, gas oil or heavy fuel oil (HFO). Oil is well-known to be a less efficient fuel, with volatile prices to match. As one of the most polluting fossil fuels, oil releases far higher levels of carbon into the atmosphere compared to greener, more efficient energy sources. And, due to its viscous nature, machines that operate on oil often require lots of maintenance.
What many don’t realise, is that it’s simple to switch to a cleaner alternative like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). If rural dairy businesses do, they could substantially reduce their emissions and even cut their energy costs at the same time. In fact, Flogas customers have cited major cost savings of up to 22% after switching from oil to LPG.
LPG is so abundant and reliable, it’s like having a mains gas supply off the grid. But it boasts the lowest carbon footprint of any off-grid fossil fuel and emits far fewer pollutants, such as NOx (nitrous oxides), SOx (sulphur oxides) and particulate matter (PM). This means it is perfectly placed to play a major role in helping the dairy sector meet stringent carbon reduction obligations.
Fuelling a carbon-free future
LPG and LNG are not only instrumental in meeting the Dairy Roadmap’s 2025 targets. At Flogas we’re looking far beyond that, which is why we endeavour to supply customers with 100% renewable energy solutions by 2040. As we all move towards the UK’s 2050 net zero deadline, we expect the introduction of carbon neutral bio-LPG and bio-LNG green gases to play a vital role too.
For any remaining, unavoidable production emissions that can’t be eliminated at source, carbon offsetting will remain an important avenue.
We offer all our customers the chance to offset up to 100% of their carbon impact from using gas, providing much-needed support to key environmental projects.
We’ve been providing leading off-grid energy solutions to dairy processors and the wider food and beverage industry for over 35 years. Whether you’re producing milk, butter, cheese or any other dairy produce, our team of experts offer full turnkey solutions that deliver the very best results for your business.