Arla Foods say it will aim to cut 25 per cent of its current green house gas (GHG) emissions from its entire production and distribution cycle by 2020, in line with revised global targets on industrial carbon dioxide (CO2) output.
Concerns over the environmental impacts of food and beverage manufacture from both governments and environmental groups, has led to processors having to reduce output of waste and green house gas emissions.
Group chief executive officer Peter Tuborgh said the company's plan, which will target a variety of areas of its operations from the farmyard through to distribution, was an ambitious long-term strategy.
"We don't have all the answers yet, but we're sending out a strong signal now to employees and business partners that, as a major company, we take our GHG emissions very seriously," he said. "We want to offer customers and consumers more climate friendly products and contribute to national and international climate targets."
According to its own estimates, the company's present green house gas emissions are about 1.5m tonnes a year from its combined production, transportation and packaging operations.
Arla Foods said that its position as a dairy cooperative therefore put it in a strong position to adapt emissions at all levels of the dairy value chain.
As part of the sustainability drive, Tuborgh said the company will focus particularly on encouraging research in its three core markets within Europe.
"As a Danish-Swedish co-operative, Arla is able to focus on the whole value chain from cow to consumer," he added. "To this end, Arla Foods intends to actively support and cooperate with organisations within the company's three home markets; Sweden, Denmark, and the UK."
Arla's announcement falls after a recent meeting of a standing committee of the International Dairy Federation, which outlined environmental sustainability
Christian Robert, director general of the IDF, which represents stakeholders throughout the global dairy industry, told DairyReporter.com that its experts were increasingly looking for new solutions to reduce the impact of dairy on the ecosystem.
"We decided in January that we would move to intensify our efforts towards increasing environmental sustainability for the whole industry," he said.
Robert said that the committee was not just looking at improvements in processing, with agricultural issues like fresh water and effluent treatment also proving to be a vital area of the focus.