Douglas MacSkimming

THE UK dairy sector has made significant progress in reducing its environmental footprint – a fact highlighted at the launch of the Dairy Roadmap's 10th anniversary in the House of Commons, this week.

Speaking to MP’s and dairy sector figures, Dairy UK chairman, Paul Vernon, said the outstanding progress during the past decade meant that the British dairy supply chain continued to be world-leading in environmental sustainability.

Mr Vernon said: “The Dairy Roadmap is a cross-industry initiative that aims to improve the environmental sustainability of the UK dairy sector whilst ensuring its continued prosperity, and the provision of safe, nutritious and sustainable dairy produce for consumers at home and abroad.

“The report highlights the vast strides that have been taken both on farms and in dairies since the roadmap was founded. Together, the British dairy sector has reported a marked improvement in its environmental footprint, not only reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, waste, and other pollutants, but also improving the efficiency with which it consumes water, energy, and other resources.”

The 2018 report said milestones in the past decade included:

* A 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with milk production.

* A 24% improvement in water efficiency.

* An 18% improvement in energy efficiency.

* 85% of HDPE milk containers are now recycled.

* A decrease in the proportion of waste sent to landfill from 35% to only 4%.

Crucially, the roadmap recognised there was no endpoint to environmental sustainability. Currently chaired by Dairy UK, working alongside the English NFU, and AHDB, theUK supply chain has set more ambitious targets for improvement that draw from the ever-changing sustainability agenda.

Speaking at the parliamentary launch, MP and minister of state for agriculture, George Eustice, said: “The dairy industry has made great strides in reducing its environmental footprint and it is great to see their ongoing progress to further increase the sustainability of this vital industry.

“As the UK’s largest agricultural sector, it has a major role to play in delivering our ambitious 25-year environment plan and I look forward to working with Dairy UK to deliver a bright future for our farmers, processors and the environment.”

NFU dairy board chairman, Michael Oakes, added: “This report highlights the significant environmental progress dairy farmers have made over the last decade driven in part by the ambitious and wide-reaching targets set by the roadmap.

“These targets include commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency, water use and waste management on farm. The achievements of the past 10 years stand testament to the hard work and commitment of our dairy farmer members to meet these environmental ambitions.”

AHDB Dairy chairman, Gwyn Jones, said: “It’s fantastic to see the progress dairy farmers are making on the targets, which is a reflection of their hard work and determination. AHDB is supporting them by funding the development and delivery of practical tools to improve environmental impact on farm.”

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