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Info-share key to new green dairy scheme

By Neil Merrett , 25-Mar-2009

Anonymity could be a secret weapon in green dairy production through a new scheme to publish and compare the environmental outputs and emissions from processors.

Dairy UK, the industry based association, says that it had launched its Environmental Benchmark tool to further support environmental commitments from processors within the sector by recording their operational performances.

While the scheme is currently targeted at processors based in Britain, the Dairy UK spokesperson suggested that it would carefully consider approaches from outside the country relating to adopting benchmarking should interest exist.

The tool’s launch comes as the entire European dairy sector continues to undertake green initiatives to improve the sector’s overall environmental impact, with the UK following its milk roadmap scheme to meet its goals.

Benchmarking tool

According to the association, the scheme will be used to measure a company’s energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and packaging waste output, which can then be anonymously compared to the performances of rival processors.

“Participants will be able to see how their performance compares to others in the industry and others producing the same sort of products,” stated Dairy UK. “However, it will not be possible to identify individual sites or companies from the published data.”

Data collection for the focus will relate to the use of complex spreadsheets that can be submitted to producers for recording their environmental impacts, according to the group.

Dairy UK claimed that there were no costs for manufacturers to sign up to the scheme and a PC was all that was required to take part.

“Each company plugs its data into the spreadsheet and returns it to Dairy UK, which collates and analyses the information,” the association added.

Data is expected to be collected over the coming month to be published by the association in a report released around May or June.

Roadmap

According to Dairy UK, the tool is the latest development in its milk roadmap scheme launched last year.

The roadmap, outlined by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in conjunction with the association and other stakeholders, sets out goals for the industry in reducing its environmental impact.

These targets include a timeline on cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and water use related to milk production, while also agreeing not to send any factory produced waste to landfill sites by 2020.

Other European members are looking to a variety of means to cut down potential impacts of their operations on the environment such as trial schemes for technology like renewable energy sources.

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