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The dairy industry has unveiled a major initiative to build business value and meet the growing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products by committing to a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2020 -- equivalent to taking more than 1.25 million passenger cars off the road every year.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy -- an organization that brings together leaders from across the dairy value chain, including producer organizations, dairy cooperatives, processors and manufacturers -- spearheaded the industrywide effort that focuses closely on the fluid milk value chain -- from farm to table -- and includes a series of projects that will reduce energy use, increase efficiency and help the industry tap into new sources of income.
As part of the initiative, the Innovation Center unveiled 12 project plans offering a range of solutions for operations large and small across all industry segments. Project organizers said the effort has the potential to create a conservatively estimated $238 million in business value and reduce GHG emissions by 3.2 million metric tons -- a reduction equal to approximately 4.5 billion kWh of electricity.
Solutions for GHG reduction include identifying and implementing energy-saving best practices across all value chain segments, removing barriers to the adoption of methane digesters, and implementing pilot programs to test alternatives to thermal pasteurization for raw milk and reduced-temperature clean-in-place processing technologies.
The Innovation Center has tapped the University of Arkansas Applied Sustainability Center to conduct the first-ever comprehensive survey to accurately measure the industry's current carbon footprint. The science-based life cycle assessment (LCA) of GHG emissions across the U.S. fluid milk value chain will be submitted for publication later this year.