First Milk looks to net zero by 2040

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

First Milk said it is making a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest. Pic: First Milk
First Milk said it is making a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest. Pic: First Milk

Related tags First milk Milk Sustainability Greenhouse gas

UK dairy cooperative First Milk has announced changes to its First4Milk sustainability plan.

The company said it is making a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest, with a target to reduce carbon footprint at farm level by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero in milk transport and processing by 2035.

It also set a target to sequester 100,000 tonnes of CO2​ per annum on members’ farms by 2025, and to increase milk from forage by 10% by 2025 to reduce members’ reliance on imported feeds.

First Milk said it is aiming for all transport and processing activity to be using renewable fuel sources by 2030 and reduce antibiotic use by a further 10% by 2025.

First Milk had previously committed to reducing relative CO2​e emissions by 65% by 2025 against a 2008 baseline, including a 40% relative reduction in energy use.

The cooperative said this will be achieved by continuing to drive carbon efficiency throughout its logistics and manufacturing operations, as well as focusing on working with its members on the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices to enhance and quantify soil carbon sequestration.

Shelagh Hancock, chief executive, said, “In 2019 we launched our First4Milk program, which set out a range of commitments to ensure we protect and enhance the global environment we all share. When it comes to climate change, our existing targets around carbon emissions were already stretching.

“But we know we need to go further, faster. Dairy farming and food manufacturing are seen as carbon-intensive activities and we know that this is coming under increasing scrutiny across the food chain, with particular focus on upstream ‘Scope 3’ emissions. These commitments set out the shape of our journey towards net zero, with the ambition of becoming a zero-carbon business as soon as we can or at the latest by 2040. By leading in this area, we will directly benefit our customers, supporting them in de-carbonizing their agri-food supply chains.”

Mark Brooking, sustainability director, said, “Our creamery operations teams are already focused on how they can decarbonize our processing activity, and we are making good progress in this area, but will now accelerate these plans as we focus on achieving net zero as quickly as we can.

“Whilst, of course, we cannot currently have all the answers to how these ambitious targets will be reached, we have a clear roadmap and, with our shared ambition, we are confident that together we can drive real change. Making these commitments will help us safeguard the future for our dairy farmer owners, ensuring that consumers can continue to enjoy the great taste, nutrition and health benefits available from a balanced diet including dairy consumption, with none of the associated climate guilt.”

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