Commission says dairy may gain from sustainable commitments

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dairy industry, Renewable energy, European union

Commission says dairy may gain from sustainable commitments
While no one sector should bare the brunt of European initiatives to drive sustainable energy, the Commission suggests that the dairy industry could be one area to benefit in the medium and long term from green initiatives.

The claims follow the European sustainable energy week, which ran between 9 to 13 February, that served to promote and establish EU commitments to ensure 20 per cent of the bloc’s energy is derived from renewable sources by 2020.

After an estimated 400 cities signed up to a covenant at the European Parliament last Tuesday pledging to substantially cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a Commission spokesperson said that business was a key area for meeting the EU’s green ambitions.

However, at both agricultural and processing level the dairy industry within the bloc has been keen to stress it is making commitments to seek greener production in its operations.

European Commission spokesperson Michael Mann said that at agricultural level, areas such as dairy farming, with the exception of green fodder drying, were not energy intensive, though there could be benefits in looking at sustainable energy.

“The 20 per cent renewable energy target and the 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency is feasible at moderate costs in the short run and can even generate cost savings in the medium to long run,”​ he stated.

Mann stressed that dairy farms also had the potential to supply and make use of biogas as well as another form of sustainable energy.

Dairy strategy

The European dairy industry though says that biogas was just one part of a multifaceted solution to greener dairy production being considered by member states.

Last month, Dr Joop Kleibeuker, secretary general of the European Dairy Association, said that biogas obtained from cow manure and other waste products, was being adopted by some European dairy processors and farmer groups

However, he stated that with similar testing on solar energy and wind farms also being undertaken, discussions were ongoing over the best means of ensuring energy neutral dairy production.

“Right now there is not so much a central European initiative [for environmental processing], with a focus much more member state specific,”​ stated Kleibeuker at the time.

The EDA Pointed to a number of trial schemes in the bloc, citing a Dutch program to encourage sustainable dairy initiatives up to 2020, as well as the UK’s Milk Roadmap scheme, which targets similar short and long-term industry goals.

As a microcosm for wider European innovation, Kleibeuker said that three pilot schemes were currently under way at a number of plants in the Netherlands, which remained a more cost effective means of trialling innovation.

Related topics: Sustainability, Markets

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