Dairy UK launched a campaign to highlight progress on the UK Dairy Roadmap, and to showcase the UK dairy industry as world-leaders in sustainability.
Dairy UK is a processor-led organisation representing farmer-owned co-ops and private dairy companies producing safe, nutritious and sustainable dairy foods. Dairy UK has strong partnerships with processors, farmers and stakeholders along the entire supply chain, and works to promote the goodness of dairy by working with MPs and the government to promote a better understanding of the dairy sector and its products.
The UK Dairy Roadmap
The UK Dairy Roadmap is a cross-industry initiative founded in 2008 that works across the whole dairy supply chain to drive forward the sustainability of the entire UK dairy sector, from farm to fork. The aim of the Dairy Roadmap is to improve the environmental sustainability of the UK’s dairy sector whilst ensuring the continued prosperity of the industry, and the provision of safe, affordable, nutritious and sustainable climate-friendly dairy produce for years to come.
Since its launch in 2008, the Dairy Roadmap has delivered:
- 24% cut in the greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk production;
- 18% improvement in energy efficiency;
- 24% increase in water efficiency;
- A reduction in the waste sent to landfill to just 4%;
- Increased recycling rates of plastic milk bottles to 85%
The Dairy Roadmap continues to drive forward the sustainability of the sector by setting ambitious targets and reporting on progress (e.g. emissions, water use, energy efficiency and waste). It is through the Roadmap initiative and its associated ambitions and targets that the UK dairy sector has become one of the most sustainable in the world.
“It’s what we’re made of” campaign
The “It’s what we’re made of” campaign shines a spotlight on three key areas of the roadmap – climate change, biodiversity, and plastics and packaging – highlighting the goals achieved so far and the progress on the longer-term targets set for the industry.
“The UK Dairy Roadmap is one of the oldest roadmap initiatives in the agricultural sector, and acts as a public commitment to environmental sustainability by the entire dairy sector. It addresses eight focus areas in which farms and dairies are set sustainability goals for 2025 and beyond. These are: climate change and energy, water, landfill, plastics and packaging, waste, biodiversity, soil and air quality.
“We have been working hard towards the sustainability goals set, with farmers and processors continuing to innovate and improve practices as we strive to meet our industry goal to Net Zero. Now, it’s time for us to share a part of this story, and what we’re made of, with consumers.”Chief Executive of Dairy UK, Dr Judith Bryans
Some key statistics showing the success and ambitions of the Roadmap include:
- 56% of dairy farmers are already taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, through steps such as improving energy efficiency and eliminating HCFC refrigerants,
- 88 dairies (over 50 companies) have signed the Climate Change Agreements (CCA) with the UK government and improved their energy efficiency by almost 30% (28.96%) across the dairy industry since 2008,
- Dairy processors in CCAs have reduced energy-related (scope 2) GHG emissions by an average of 28.96% between 2008 and 2020,
- A target to reduce carbon-related energy use at processing sites by 30% by 2030,
- 43% of farmers produce or use renewable energy,
- Arla Dairy in Aylesbury became the first large liquid dairy in the world to become net zero carbon in 2017.
- 30,000km of hedgerows planted or restored to provide habitats for wildlife,
- 37,000km of grass margins planted under the Campaign for the Farmed Environment to prevent water pollution and protect hedgerows.
Plastics and Packaging Waste
- Plastic milk containers are one of the UK’s most recycled products,
- 80% of plastic HDPE milk bottles are currently recycled – the average for plastic bottle recycling is 58%,
- 89% of tertiary packaging (from shipping and transport) is reused or recycled.
Sustainability in the dairy industry
In 2018, the 10th anniversary report highlighted the vast strides that had already been made, including marked improvements in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and waste, as well as improved water and energy efficiencies.
Building on this, the UK Dairy Roadmap launched its historic Net Zero ambition paper in November 2021, detailing its plans to meet the challenge of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, setting a minimum standard for improvement across the whole sector.
“UK dairy farmers are already working hard to address the challenge of climate change, and we are now committing to do even more. We are engaged in initiatives to reduce the carbon footprint of dairy, such as improving productivity, efficient use of nutrients and incorporating renewable and bioenergy systems on farm via solar panels and anaerobic digesters.
“The Dairy Roadmap climate ambition will encourage dairy producers and processors to work together to achieve a common goal, while demonstrating that we can produce climate friendly food to our consumers. Our commitment to science-based targets and a recognition of the role of methane is an important step in cementing the sustainability of dairy for the long term.”NFU dairy board chairman, Michael Oakes
Across the world it’s recognised that everyone must work together to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5C. Aligning with the UK government’s targets, the dairy industry has ambitiously pledged to reach Net Zero carbon by 2050.
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