UK carbon scheme targets dairy gas solutions

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Greenhouse gas emissions, Greenhouse gas, Carbon dioxide

Amidst calls to tighten monitoring of how dairy affects greenhouse gas emissions, a new UK-based scheme hopes to provide manufacturers with a means of tracking and controlling their carbon footprint.

The PAS 2050 standard has been designed to provide consistent means of counting green house gas emissions across the whole production cycle from ingredient sourcing to distribution, use and disposal, according to its creators.

Having been launched with the help of a number of food and personal care groups, trade association Dairy UK welcomed the scheme as a means of providing a template for all its members to adhere too.

Earlier this month, reports had suggested that greater efforts were needed by the global dairy industry to ensure reliable and accurate information was available on their greenhouse gas emissions.

Dairy output

Fergus McReynolds, environment manager for Dairy UK, said that the industry was already using the new standard to outline methods of calculating the carbon footprints of various dairy products.

“This standard provides a consistent method of carbon foot printing which will allow comparisons between different systems and business models,”​ he stated. “It is now critical that PAS 2050 is accepted by industry as the basis for all such work.”

PAS 2050

The standard, drawn up in cooperation between national organizations like BSI British Standards, the Carbon Trust and the​Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has involved the cooperation of manufacturers like Danone.

According to these organisations, the cooperation of businesses within the standard will allow industry players to find new means of reducing emissions within the design, production and supply of their products. It is hoped that dairy and food companies will be better equipped to switch to less carbon intensive manufacture as a result.

Political perspective

UK environment secretary Hilary Benn claimed that besides improving environmental sustainability for businesses, manufacturers can also use the findings to aid cost efficiency on their operations.

“You can’t see or count emissions when you buy a product,”​ he stated. “But consumers want to know that emissions are being cut by businesses and this standard will help businesses to do that.”

The claims come at a key moment for an increasingly environmentally focused dairy industry.

Industry challenges

In findings commissioned by the European Dairy Association (EDA), the entire industry has been called to rethink how it measures and compares its greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain.

Independent consultancy CE Delft, which produced the report published earlier this month, said attempts to compare data on how milk production at farm, cradle-to-farm-gate and prior to consumption impact gas output requires revising. A new system may then improve understanding of key environmental drives, the researchers stated.

The report stresses that both methodological and regional variances in compiling milk life cycle assessments makes it difficult to provide direct comparisons in establishing the potential impact of dairy production on climate change.

“Ideally a series of consistent life-cycle assessments with a large variation of parameters would need to be performed,”​ the report stated.

Related topics: Markets, Sustainability

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