The UK dairy sector has made significant progress in its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint, attendees at the launch of the Dairy Roadmap 10th anniversary report were told today (Tuesday 22 May).
The report was launched in front of MPs and leading dairy figures at the House of Commons. The audience included NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts with the NFU dairy team of national dairy board chairman Michael Oakes and chief dairy adviser Sian Davies.
Dairy UK Chairman Paul Vernon highlighted the outstanding progress the sector has made over the past decade. He outlined future plans to ensure 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 10th anniversary report highlights the vast strides that have been taken both on farms and in dairies since the Dairy 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 UK is currently the 3rd largest producer of milk in the Europe and the 10th largest globally. The sector employs more than 70,000 people in the UK, represents 15% of the value of agricultural produce in the UK and accounts for an estimated £8.8 billion in sales at wholesale.
The 2018 report celebrates milestones achieved over the past decade including:
- 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 now recycled
- A decrease in the proportion of waste sent to landfill from 35% to only 4%.
Crucially, the Dairy Roadmap recognises that there is no endpoint to environmental sustainability. Currently chaired by Dairy UK, working alongside the NFU, and Agriculture Horticulture and Development Board (AHDB), the entire UK supply chain continues to set ambitious targets for improvement that draw from the ever-changing sustainability agenda.
The report also explores the next steps in the Dairy Roadmap’s evolution to consider how it aligns with national commitments and global sustainability initiatives, such as the Dairy Sustainability Framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking at the parliamentary launch, George Eustice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 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, the industry 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 (pictured above) said: “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 usage 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.
“Looking ahead, in light of our commitment to ambitious new initiatives like the Dairy Declaration of Rotterdam, we will continuously review future targets to ensure that the contribution of dairy farmers to the Dairy Roadmap remains ambitious and relevant to the range of sustainability challenges ahead.”
Gwyn Jones, AHDB Dairy Chairman 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.”
Download a copy of the 2018 Dairy Roadmap here.