Reduced waste to landfill

Dairy waste_hero
A large contributor to waste on farms is the use of silage wrap. Only 35% of farmers currently recycle any of the wrapping material.

Collective action on waste

Dairy manufacturers generate a variety of waste streams, ranging from cardboard and plastic packaging to wooden pallets and waste water treatment sludges.

In 2015/16, Australian dairy manufacturers produced an estimated 1.39 tonnes of waste to landfill per million litres or megalitre (ML) of milk processed. This figure is representative of 62% of the milk volume processed nationally. This equates to a 48.4% reduction since 2010/11 and exceeds the industry’s target of a 40% reduction by 2020. While not directly comparable, Dairy UK’s environmental benchmarking among manufacturers achieved a 22% reduction in waste to landfill per tonne of product between 2008 and 2015.

While some of this reduction is due to increased efforts to reduce and divert waste, some improvement is also likely to be due to improved measurement of waste. Since data collection started, more dairy manufacturers are having contractors weigh waste more accurately, rather than estimating by volume, and this has helped to improve accuracy.

This year, dairy manufacturers are also reporting on waste diversion and in 2015/16 diverted seven million tonnes of waste from landfill and a diversion rate of 72%.

Sustainable Development Goals

The Australian dairy industry has a role to play in reducing waste and is engaging with global frameworks such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to better understand where it can contribute to change. With regards to commitments to reduce waste, SDGs #6 and #12 are particularly relevant for the Australian dairy industry:

6.3 By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.

12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses.

12.5 By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.