First Milk has announced plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040 at the latest.
Part of a range of developments to its First4Milk sustainability plan, the dairy co-op will also aim to reduce its carbon footprint at farm level by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero in milk transport and processing by 2035.
The supplier also intends to sequester 100,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum on members’ farms by 2025, and increase the amount of milk produced from forage by 10% by 2025 to reduce members’ reliance on imported feeds.
First Milk would also aim for all transport and processing activity to be using renewable fuel sources by 2030, it said, while it intended to reduce antibiotic usage by a further 10% by 2025.
“These stretching commitments will be achieved by continuing to drive carbon efficiency throughout our logistics and manufacturing operations,” it added. There would also be a “major focus” on working with its members on the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices to enhance and quantify soil carbon sequestration.
“In 2019 we launched our First4Milk programme, which set out a range of commitments to ensure we protect and enhance the global environment we all share,” said First Milk CEO Shelagh Hancock.
“When it comes to climate change, our existing targets around carbon emissions were already stretching. But we know we need to go further, faster,” she added.
“Dairy farming and food manufacturing are seen as carbon-intensive activities and we know that this is coming under increasing scrutiny across the food chain, with particular focus on upstream ‘Scope 3’ emissions. These commitments set out the shape of our journey towards net zero, with the ambition of becoming a zero-carbon business as soon as we can or at the latest by 2040.”
By leading in this area, First Milk would directly benefit its customers, supporting them in de-carbonising their agri-food supply chains, she pointed out.
First Milk’s creamery operations were “already focused on how they can decarbonise our processing activity”, said sustainability director Mark Brooking.
“We are making good progress in this area, but will now accelerate these plans as we focus on achieving net zero as quickly as we can.
“Our farmer members have already committed to grazing their cows, and we will build on this by becoming the champion for regenerative agriculture in dairy production, working with our members using climate-friendly farming practices to improve soil health, enhance biodiversity, improve water quality and enhance productivity whilst sequestering significant quantities of carbon in the soil.”