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Dairy Council

Dairy Supply Chain Efficiencies are Helping to Tackle Climate Change – Fact Book

The dairy sector supply chain is also helping decarbonise other industries by producing biomethane for injection into the natural gas network.

The Northern Ireland dairy supply chain is playing its part in operating a circular economy model and ensuring that it minimises waste and makes the best use of the resources available. Information on the dairy supply chain sustainability and waste reduction efforts are contained in a new EU Sustainable Dairy Fact book published by the Dairy Council for NI which outlines ways that Northern Ireland dairy processing businesses are continuing to invest in improving efficiency and making significant reductions in emissions.

The new publication also puts a spotlight on the use of anaerobic digestion throughout the sector from the farm to factory, demonstrating how reducing waste throughout the entire dairy supply chain, and repurposing suitable waste as a feedstock for AD, is helping decarbonise the dairy sector further. 

It includes case studies from three AD plants within the dairy supply chain: on a farm outside Ballymoney, at a dairy processing site in Newtownards and at a third–party service provider Granville Ecopark in Dungannon which is creating renewable electricity, organic fertiliser and biomethane fuel from food waste.

Anaerobic Digestion has an important role to play in the future of decarbonising Northern Ireland’s heat, power and transport networks and the local dairy supply chain had helped prove the effectiveness of the technology, with many of Northern Ireland’s dairy processes already fuelled by renewable gas.

products from the AD process such as organic fertiliser and CO2 can be sold on as sustainable products – helping to create other commercial opportunities in rural communities.

Dr Mike Johnston, Chief Executive of Dairy Council NI commented,

 “With significant attention focussed on the future energy strategy for Northern Ireland, we thought it important to show the role that the dairy supply chain is playing in producing sustainable products and renewable energy to decarbonise both the dairy supply chain and other sectors throughout Northern Ireland.

“Whilst all of the investments and actions within the dairy supply have been effective in reducing emissions, it is essential that we continue our journey towards the ultimate goal of net zero, and, therefore, we need to continue to be mindful of the UN’s four pillars of sustainability – climate, nutrition, economy and culture. Without sustainable local dairy farm enterprises, we cannot achieve the ambition of a sustainable future.”

The publication concludes with a look at the role Northern Ireland dairy products play as part of a sustainable diet in the local and export markets. In Northern Ireland, they are the main providers of calcium, and dairy also supplies significant amounts of many other nutrients. Many of the nutrients provided by dairy products are hard to replace and this should always be taken into account when planning a healthy, sustainable diet. There is already concern that some in Northern Ireland are missing out on vital nutrients and this is particularly true for teenage girls.

The local climate and topography mean Northern Ireland is well suited to producing high quality, nutritious dairy products from forage. DAERA research shows the sector has already made great progress in improving efficiencies to reduce the carbon intensity of a litre (excluding sequestration) of milk by almost 36% since 1990. During that same period the dairy sector has increased production by an impressive 81%, making the dairy sector an invaluable driver of the Northern Ireland economy.

The Dairy Council NI fact book is part of an EU Sustainable Dairy programme in partnership with the European Milk Forum with funding from the European Union.

View the 2021 fact book here.

The content of this promotion campaign represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the European Research Executive Agency (REA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.