Tillamook makes animal welfare, sustainable packaging progress in 2023 Stewardship Report

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Tillamook
Image Credit: Tillamook

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Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is making significant strides across its packaging, recycling and animal welfare programs, as outlined in its 2023 Stewardship Report, Paul Snyder, executive VP of stewardship for the co-op dairy producer, told FoodNavigator-USA.

In its 2023 Stewardship Report, TCCA outlined how it is improving sustainability across its six stewardship stakeholders: thriving farms, healthful cows, inspired consumers, enduring ecosystems, fulfilled employees, and enriched communities. 

Among some of the highlights from the report, TCCA has enrolled 100% of its farmers in the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM)/Validus program, a set of principles designed to promote the ethical treatment of dairy cows. 

Additionally, the co-op reinvested 6% of its earnings into grants for agriculture advocacy and food security for 2023, against a goal of 4% per year.

“We are making progress against our stakeholder commitments across the board. We are doing things around our environmental footprint. We are doing things in terms of impact on the community. We are supporting our employees. We are making sure that our cows are well taken care of. A lot of times when you have a broad-based stakeholder approach like we have here, you can focus just on one versus others. And so, the first thing I'm really proud of is that we can demonstrate achievement across all of our six stakeholders," Snyder said.

‘I'm really proud of the fact that our scorecard is not all green’  

Tillamook maintains an online scorecard​ that tracks the co-op’s various sustainability goals, providing a way to share progress transparently with consumers and stakeholders, Snyder said. 

While the scorecard lists numerous achievements in 2023 - including reducing water consumption and boosting the fuel efficiency of TCCA'S fleet – TCCA still has areas to improve, including in reducing its Scope 3 emissions. 

“I'm really proud of the fact that our scorecard is not all green. Our scorecard has greens, it has yellows and it has some reds. And I think that speaks to two things. Number one, it speaks to our transparency. We are going to be very honest about how we are doing against our ambitions, and it speaks to the nature of that ambition that we are giving ourselves some pretty hard targets to go after. They are achievable, but they are going to stretch us,” Snyder said. 

He added, “We need to do big things for our six stakeholders, in concert with all other companies to actually move the needle on a lot of these really important issues for the world.”

Switching to sustainable packaging ‘is tough’ 

TCCA is “tracking well” on some of its sustainable packaging and recycling goals, but others have “some challenges ahead,” Snyder said.

In 2023, 99% of all TCCA's paper-based packaging came from sustainable-certified materials, against a goal of 100% by 2025. Additionally, TCCA collected 60,000 pounds of on-farm plastic for recycling in 2023.  

However, the co-op has “a lot of work to do” to meet its single-use plastics goal, he admitted. TCCA has yet to make progress on its goal of increasing recycled content to 20% on average in its plastic packaging, according to the Stewardship report.   

While TCCA remains committed to packaging changes, finding more sustainable options is not easy and requires cross-industry collaboration, Snyder acknowledged.   

"We created our packaging commitments three years ago because we have got to figure this out, all of us in food have got to figure out packaging, and it is tough. We could go to perfectly sustainable packaging tomorrow. It would be enormously expensive, and also it would contribute to food waste because, unfortunately, right now, the packaging that forms the best in terms of keeping food fresh is plastic. And so that is a real bind that we have got to try to untie," he added.

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