Low Carbon Dairy: working together on a 50% reduction of the footprint of milk

Wageningen University & Research is working to achieve a 50% reduction in the carbon footprint of milk by 2030 through the four-year Low Carbon Dairy public-private partnership (PPP). We are doing this in partnership with Unilever’s dairy supply chains involving Ben & Jerry’s and CONO Cheesemakers, and Nestlé with Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods. Feed companies (Agrifirm, ForFarmers and De Heus) and Duynie (supplier of co-products), Lely (robots and data systems for dairy farms), and Rabobank are also participating.

How can we achieve a rapid transition towards fully sustainable dairy farming and dairy supply chains, based on a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per kg of milk? That’s the question this PPP aims to answer. The research project is based on two separate dairy supply chain initiatives: one involving Unilever, Ben & Jerry’s and CONO Cheesemakers, and the other with Nestlé and Vreugdenhil Dairy Foods. Their aim is to achieve a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions per kg of milk produced by the dairy farms in their supply chains. Activities within both those chains provide the setting for conducting analyses and for developing, testing, evaluating, and improving approaches and tools.

Research activities

  1. Making plans for individual dairy farms, aimed at substantial emission reductions and working on implementation. Initially this will be done through pilot groups and will then gradually be rolled out within the supply chains. This will all take place within the supply chains.
  2. Analysing the feasibility and consequences (costs and benefits and trade-offs) of a 50% reduction in emissions.
  3. Developing a broadly applicable approach with associated tools, including a tool for creating an appropriate emissions reduction plan for individual businesses, and the design of a tool for implementation (including recording agreements and monitoring progress).
  4. Collecting lessons relating to monitoring and accountability within supply chains, international experiences around emission reduction measures, and efforts within supply chains to improve sustainability.
  5. International exchange of knowledge and results.

Initial results are expected in the autumn of 2023.