Arla lorries

Source: Arla Foods UK 

The dairy co-op has announced a raft of new commitments including a switch to renewable energy by 2025, ditching all virgin plastics by 2030 and much more on farm

Arla Foods UK has doubled down on its sustainability ambitions despite facing soaring inflationary pressures across its business.

Arla brands such as Cravendale and Lactofree have seen some of the biggest hikes in recent months on the back of record farmgate prices – with Cravendale SKUs up to 45% more expensive than at the start of the year, and Lactofree SKUs up to 23% [Assosia].

Own label milk – of which Arla is one of the two major suppliers to the mults – has also seen significant price inflation due to big increases in the price of farming inputs.

But despite these pressures, Arla this week outlined ambitious plans to significantly cut emissions across its entire value chain by 2030.

The supplier’s Climate Roadmap – Towards Carbon Net Zero dairy plan, aims to cut Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 63% by 2030 compared with a 2015 baseline to align with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees. Arla is also aiming to reduce Scope 3 emissions by 30% per kilo of milk and whey, against a 2015 baseline by the same date.

The two objectives meant Arla was the first UK dairy co-operative, and one of only 59 food and beverage processors globally, to meet this standard, it claimed. Arla intends to reach net zero across its entire business by 2050.

To meet the 63% cut in Scope 1 and 2 emissions, Arla is focussing on production, transport and logistics and packaging. It is planning to switch to 100% renewable energy across production sites by 2025 – including a big push towards alternative fuels such as biogas – while also moving to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, as well as removing all virgin fossil plastic from branded packs by 2030.

One pint of milk now more than 60% more expensive than in January

Meanwhile, for its Scope 3 target, it said it would work with its farmers in areas such as adapting to more sustainable feed production practices, maximise protein efficiency, manage “healthy, contented cows” and improve crop yields to reduce land use associated with feed.

The supplier claimed over half of its 30% reduction target would be met by optimising farm resource use and helping farmers to adopt more sustainable feed production practices in this way.

Currently, Arla’s emissions come from five key areas; farming, which accounts for 83% of emissions, production (4%), packaging (2%), logistics and transport (2%) and other areas (9%) which includes mostly the purchasing of whey from the global Arla business rather than Arla Foods UK.

“The demand for dairy is growing around the world and we have a growing population to feed. We must face into the challenges of reducing emissions to create a healthy planet alongside healthy people,” said Arla UK senior sustainability manager Ben Wood.

“Achieving approval for our scope 1 & 2 emissions from the Science-Based Targets Initiative is a key milestone on our way to ensuring we tackle the issues around food production and being one of the first dairy companies globally to get this approval highlights our commitment to sustainable food.”

Over the past seven years, Arla UK has reduced emissions by 14% on farm (per kg of raw milk), by 24% across production, by 25% in transport and logistics, and by 18% in the packaging process.