Arla commits to further carbon cuts as it unveils climate roadmap

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Dairy Arla Milk Sustainability

The co-op’s figures have been approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative, making it one of only few dairy companies to achieve this.

Arla UK has published a climate roadmap to demonstrate how it’s planning to reduce emissions across its whole value chain, from farms to logistics, by 2030. The co-op has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Most of the company’s emissions originate from its farms (83%), with production and sites (4%), transport (2%), packaging (2%), and other activity including purchased whey making up the remaining 9%.

Its 2030 targets comprise of a 63% reduction of scope one and two emissions, and a further 30% reduction on scope three. This means the biggest reduction will come from production, offices and owned logistics energy usage, while farming, sourced whey and third-party logistics will contribute 30%.

The targets have been approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative, meaning they are consistent with emissions reductions required to keep global warming to 1.5⁰C.

On-farm reductions

Most of Arla’s emissions come from farming, and the co-op says it has already reduced these by 14% between 2015 and 2021. To push this number to 30%, Arla will introduce more sustainable feed production practices, optimise farm resource use, utilize renewable electricity and biogas, improve breeding, use sustainable fertilizers and adopt carbon sequestration techniques.

All of Arla’s organic farms are set to transition to renewable electricity this year, while an increasing number are self-generating electricity from wind and solar, and some use anaerobic digesters to turn biogas into natural gas and electricity.

Ben Wood, senior sustainability manager for Arla UK, commented: “We know that we have challenges to overcome when it comes to reducing our impact and that’s why we’re seizing the opportunity by investing across our entire value chain: starting at farm level through to the products ending up on the supermarket shelves.

“Our cooperative structure means that collaboration is in our blood and we’re working across our 2,100 UK dairy farms to share knowledge and bring about the all-important changes needed to develop even more sustainable food, that continues to deliver profitability for our farmers and create a stronger planet.”

Production, transport and packaging

Arla’s bigger reduction target of 63% will be generated through changes across production, transport and logistics and packaging. The co-op has already cut emissions by 24% across production; 25% across transport and logistics; and 18% across packaging.

To meet its newly-unveiled target, renewable electricity is set to be at the heart of the strategy, with all production sites set to switch to green electricity by 2025. Optimizing energy use will make a further contribution to the overall target. The co-op will continue to take advantage of its closed-loop renewable energy scheme, which enables it to buy energy directly from its farmers.

In transport, the co-op is set to power more than two-in-five of its fleet by biogas, either self-generated through slurry treatment technology or bought from third parties.

In packaging, Arla has committed to using fully recyclable packaging across its own-brand products by 2025 – including launching a fully recyclable milk bottle in early 2023 - and removing all virgin fossil plastics from packaging by 2030.

Beyond 2030

The document detailing its climate targets also reveals Arla’s post-2030 ambitions. The co-op is planning to introduce feed additives to cows’ diets in a bid to reduce emissions from digestion but thinks ‘widespread use of additives is still a number of years away from being mainstream on farm’. It added that trials ‘show promise’ and that Arla is testing a range of solutions, such as DSM’s Bovaer additive.

The co-op is also testing a manure treatment technology to produce natural fertilizer from slurry and is exploring ‘the practical and commercial feasibility’ of using biochar for carbon sequestration purposes.

Finally, the co-op’s ambitiously-named Arla UK 360 ‘Innovation Farm’ near Aylesbury offers trial space for innovative agriculture technology to be tested out before being rolled out more widely to Arla farms.

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