Arla Foods has announced that, by 2050, operations at the European dairy cooperative will be carbon net zero, with any unavoidable emissions (for example, from farms) entirely offset by improvements elsewhere in the supply chain.
In addition, Arla plans to balance nitrogen and phosphorus cycles to support clean water systems and further increase biodiversity across Britain’s countryside.
“One of the greatest challenges facing us all is providing natural, nutritious food for a growing population whilst reducing our collective impact on the world around us,” said Ash Amirahmadi, UK managing director at Arla Foods.
“Arla has already shown this is possible and the new ambitions announced today will ensure Arla’s farmers, production sites and products continue to play their part in developing a sustainable world for everyone,” he explained.
The plan is ambitious and Arla acknowledges that it will require radical changes across its business. However, Arla believes that its carbon net zero target is possible, particularly given the rapid pace of change in technology and increasing on farm efficiencies.
Crucially, Arla has demonstrated that environmentally friendly ambitions do not have to be at odds with business development. For example, while Arla has managed more than 40 per cent more milk since 2005, its carbon emissions have reduced by 22 per cent across production and packaging. On farms, carbon emissions per kilo of milk have reduced by 24 per cent since 1990.
Meanwhile, Arla has already seen a 48 per cent reduction in its UK plastics carbon footprint: equivalent to 72,937 tonnes since 2005 or taking over two million four-pint milk bottles off the shelf.
This was achieved by reducing the weight of Arla’s standard milk bottles by 25.5 per cent, using up to 40 per cent recycled plastics in them and making 84 per cent of the packaging produced in the UK recyclable.