In July the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and its industry partners completed the first national carbon footprint study of fluid milk. The results show that total U.S. dairy greenhouse gas emissions are approximately 2 percent of total U.S. emissions, a much lower percentage than what has been frequently cited.
The Fluid Milk Carbon Footprint Study, conducted by the Applied Sustainability Center of the University of Arkansas, measured the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production of one U.S. gallon of fluid milk from farm to table. Researchers gathered data from more than 500 farms and 50 processing plants across the United States and analyzed more than 210,000 round trips transporting milk from farm to processor.
A synopsis of the results and their positive impact on the entire industry will be featured at the International Dairy Show on September 14. An expert panel will highlight methods processors can use to reduce their carbon footprints and generate business value at the same time.
"Our industry's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions brings potential for significant cost savings through increased efficiency," said Clay Detlefsen, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs. "The carbon footprint study identifies key areas of opportunity in processing, packaging, distribution and transport."
Case studies will show how some processors are gaining 40 percent savings on steam costs while others are recording 50 percent savings on energy. The panelists are: Gail Barnes, vice president of technology and packaging, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy; Howard Depoy, director of power, refrigeration and sustainability, LALA USA; Jim Mulvenna, president and general manager, dairy and bulk food transport, Ruan Transport Corporation; and Darin Nutter, P.E., associate professor of mechanical engineering, University of Arkansas.
The session, "Fluid Milk: Reducing Carbon Footprint and Generating Business Value," is scheduled for September 14 at 9:00 a.m. Registration for the International Dairy Show is still open.
Nutrient Density and Climate Impact
Another recent study, this one by Swedish researchers, explored the nutritional impact of altering consumption patterns, such as replacing animal foods with plant-based foods, as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions. This study, published last week in "Food & Nutrition Research," concluded that milk has the highest nutrient density in relation to greenhouse gas emissions when compared to other beverages, including water, orange juice, soft drinks and soy drinks. The results demonstrate the need to keep the nutritional dimensions of beverages and foods in mind while attempting to decrease emissions associated with production.
Read the article, "Nutrient density of beverages in relation to climate impact," here.