COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Farmers’ cooperative Arla Foods, one of the world’s biggest dairy firms, plans to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent over the next decade to meet rising demand from consumers for more sustainable products, it said on Sunday.
The target comes as Arla, owned by 10,300 farmers in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom, faces increasing pressure along with the rest of the food industry to reduce emissions.
Livestock farming alone is responsible for up to 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming, according to the United Nations.
“We believe that a growing number of consumers are willing to reward the most sustainable dairy farmers by paying a little more for their milk in the same way as we have seen with organic dairy,” said Arla Chief Executive Peder Tuborgh.
Arla plans to switch to more sustainable operations such as renewable energy, sustainable packaging and lower waste production, while farmers can plant more trees and bushes to help absorb carbon and improve biodiversity.
Today, one liter of Arla milk emits 1.15 kilogram of carbon dioxide, which it aims to cut by 30 percent by 2030 and to zero by 2050.
Arla’s milk production will however still emit methane, a greenhouse gas which is produced through cows’ digestion. The company is looking into the cows’ feed composition to make them less gassy, for the sake of farmers and the environment.
The United Nations says people need to change the way they use energy to eat, travel and live, for example by cutting meat and dairy consumption, driving electric vehicles or taking public transport, and buying low-carbon products.
Reporting by Andreas Mortensen; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Jan Harvey