‘Increasing desire among dairies to deliver products with a low environmental impact’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

CONO Kaasmakers is working with Tetra Pak to be the “greenest dairy in the world”. Photo: Tetra Pak.
CONO Kaasmakers is working with Tetra Pak to be the “greenest dairy in the world”. Photo: Tetra Pak.
The dairy industry represents around 13% of Europe’s total food and drink sector and is one of the largest users of energy and water, according to Tetra Pak.

It claims until recently, efforts to reduce emissions have focused mostly on the dairy farms and transport, but this is expanding to processing as consumers want products to have as small a climate impact as possible.

Dairy Roadmap

In Britain, the UK Dairy Roadmap, an industry initiative, has raised industrial energy efficiency in dairy processing by 18% since 2008 and is targeting a 30% cut in carbon footprint by 2025.

According to Jan Erik de Vries, product manager, Key Components, Tetra Pak, dairies in the Netherlands have gone further than any other country in their search for sustainability.

For example, in 2008, all Dutch dairies signed the Clean and Economical Agriculture Sector Covenant​ and the national LTA3 agreement​ on energy efficiency.

The objective of this agreement is to achieve an energy efficiency of 2% per year between 2005 and 2020​,” he said.

Dairies focus on the reduction of greenhouse gases through energy efficiency, reuse of energy and sustainable energy generation. Generally, this is done by using efficient centrifugal pumps in combination with highly efficient motors, centrifuges with low pressure technology, heat recovery by water buffers and all kind of other initiatives to optimize plants​.”

De Vries said these efforts are driven both by the Dutch government and a desire among dairies to deliver to consumers products with a low environmental impact.

CONO Kaasmakers

As an example, he said the Dutch cooperative cheesemaker CONO Kaasmakers, has stated it wants to be the “greenest dairy in the world”.

They have put their money where their mouth is, investing more than €80m in a new plant featuring low-energy separators, among other equipment,​” said De Vries.

With sustainable practice at the top of the agenda for consumers, separation represents another process where the combination of expertise and technology is offering producers an opportunity to realise their environmental goals.

Separators are not the most energy-intensive equipment in a dairy, but an energy-efficient separator can make a difference to a dairy producers energy consumption​.”

Another example of an energy saving device is Product to product (P2P) heat exchangers which can offer up to 50% improved energy efficiency compared to Product to Water (P2W) alternatives through lower steam and cooling water consumption.

Lilly Li, global environmental manager, Processing Solutions & Equipment, Tetra Pak, said most of the dairy producers it works have ambitious targets for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions, typically to achieve decreases of 20% to 50%.

Sustainability is good not only for the planet but also for the bottom line. There is a growing desire among dairy processors to reduce emissions as a route both to greening their portfolio and boosting competitiveness,​” she added. 

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