Reducing environmental impact

Reducing environmental impact - Commitment 4

We commit to meeting the challenge of climate change and to provide good stewardship of our natural resources

Our challenge and opportunity

By 2030, an increase the heatwaves, storms and drought in Australia's eight dairying regions will affect animal welfare, milk production and limit pasture growth. Today, dairy contributes 12% of Australian agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) making up 90-95% from farms and 5-10% from manufacturing.

This commitment's goals and targets are focused on reducing our GHG emissions and increasing water efficiency in manufacturing and on farms. We are also targeting nutrient management, water management and waste reduction. The dairy industry has set a 30% GHG emissions reduction goal.

Commitment goals and performance results for 2018
Improving land management
Reducing industry water use by 20%
Reducing greenhouse emissions by 30%
Reducing waste to landfill by 40%
For full details, download the report
For emerging issues and 2030 targets, see overview


Goal - improve nutrient, land and water management

Australian dairy farmers are committed to responsible nutrient, land and water management.

How we performed in 2017/18:

  • According to the 2018 National Dairy Farmer Survey, approximately 81% of dairy farms manage some land for conservation and biodiversity
  • Of farmers surveyed, 81% of respondents have taken action on this goal, including: 
    • 41% planted vegetation and shelter belts
    • 39% fenced off waterways
    • 64% controlled pests, and
    • 38% have a documented biodiversity plan in place

This table shows our year-on-year progress for Goal 8 against 2020 targets:

Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework - Commitment 4 - Goal 8 Scorecard 

Case study

DairyTas takes out National Landcare Awards  

DairyTas takes out National Landcare Awards in 2018.

  • Tasmanian dairy farmers and DairyTas banded together in two award-winning initiatives to protect local rivers from the impacts of fertiliser use and effluent
  • The Fer$mart and Clean Rivers initiatives won the Australian Government Excellent in Sustainable Farm Practices award
  • Over $4 million in sustainable projects has been jointly invested by 350 Tasmanian dairy farmers, DairyTas and financiers

Key initiatives

These initiatives are driving change in nutrient, land and water management.

Dairying for Tomorrow This is a practical natural resource management program to secure the future of Australia’s dairy farms.
DairySAT The Dairy Self-Assessment Tool is being refreshed following a national Landcare grant.
Dairy Australia will use the grant to update DairySat to include digital reporting and capture sensor data features.
Smarter Irrigation
for Profit
This three-year project demonstrated how major improvements in irrigation efficiency can
be achieved with relatively minor tweaks.
Fert$mart Fert$mart's online tools help farmers access all sorts of data including government soil mapping and
the services of agronomists. Dairy companies such as Fonterra’s Farm Source Program are also
incorporating the Fert$mart tools into their own supplier support programs. 
Biodiversity Action Plan This web-based template helps farmers understand biodiversity on their farms.

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Goal - Reduce consumptive water intensity of dairy companies by 20%

Reducing our water-use footprint is a priority for our industry's future, we commit to using water efficiently.

How we performed in in 2017/18:

  • In the National Dairy Farmer Survey farmers were asked about their water management plans, and it was found that respondents aged 60+ were more likely to have a plan (64%) than those aged 18-39 years (49%)
  • In dairy companies, water intensity increased by 13.6%, wastewater intensity also increased by 2.7% - water gets used less efficiently when factories operation below capacity and the decrease in the milk supply reflects this

This table shows our year-on-year progress for Goal 9 against 2020 targets:

Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework - Commitment 4 - Goal 9 Scorecard 

Case study



At Bega Cheese’s Lagoon Street site in North Bega, New South Wales, significant modifications were made during the past year to improve water efficiency.

As a result of the improvements:

  • Energy intensity was reduced by 11%
  • Solids concentration went up from 54% to 60%
  • The site decreased generation of wastewater by 10%
  • Chemical oxygen demand of wastewater reduced by 46%

Key initiatives

These initiatives are driving change in the reduction of consumptive water intensity of dairy companies.

Murray Dairy Water Trading Toolkit  The toolkit helps farmers understand factors that influence access to water and make better water management decisions.
Dairy Companies’ Sustainability
Council (DMSC)
The DMSC was initiated in 1995 and is vital to achieving the Framework’s vision to embed sustainability across the entire supply chain.

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Goal - Reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 30%

International scientific consensus links climate change with GHG emissions and the dairy industry has a responsibility to reduce its emissions in both the farm and manufacturing sectors.

How we performed in in 2017/18:

  • According to the DMSC scorecard report, in 2016/2017 was a 30% reduction in GHG emissions intensity on 2010/11 levels measured by a direct measurement of dairy companies emissions

This table shows our year-on-year progress for Goal 10 against 2020 targets:

Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework - Commitment 4 - Goal 10 Scorecard 

Case study

Goal 10 - Reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 30 per cent

Burra Foods commits to long-term sustainability through renewable energy.

  • Gippsland dairy processor Burra Foods entered into a large-scale Renewable Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Melbourne-based energy retailer Flow Power.
  • They’ve also recently installed 600 square metres of solar panels – expected to deliver 2.4 per cent of its electricity needs

 

Key initiatives

These initiatives are driving change in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions intensity.

Land, water, carbon Dairy Australia’s strategic program supporting the industry goal to cut farm GHG emissions.
Dairy Climate Toolkit
Helps farmers and service providers understand GHG emissions and reduction measures.
DairySAT
The Dairy Self Assessment Tool is an for environmental self-assessment and action planning for Australian dairy farmers. 
Australian Dairy Carbon Calculator   Helps farmers identify potential GHG emissions reductions within their business. 

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Goal - Reduce waste to landfill by 40%

Our industry is cutting waste along the value chain to make more efficient use of resources and reduce environmental impact.

How we performed in 2017/18:

  • A decrease in waste intensity from 1.39 tonnes sent to landfill per ML of milk processed in 2015/16 to 1.32 tonnes in 2016/2017. This represents a decrease of 4.6% over the year
  • Over the same period, the rate of waste diverted from landfill decreased from 72% to 66%
  • On-farm the DairySAT program will help farmers estimate waste to landfill

This table shows our year-on-year progress for Goal 11 against 2020 targets:

Australian Dairy Sustainability Framework - Commitment 4 - Goal 11 Scorecard 

Case study


Wooden crates recycled for Christmas decorations at the Stanhope Men’s Shed.

After a fire at Fonterra’s cheese plant and the resulting site upgrade, there was a lot of waste material including wooden packing crates from the equipment transportation process.

  • Discussions with the Stanhope and District Men’s Shed resulted in the large wooden crates being recycled to build toys and Christmas decorations for local children which were given away as Christmas presents
 

Key initiatives

These initiatives are driving change in the reduction of consumptive water intensity of dairy companies.

Industry working group to tackle packaging waste
A newly-formed working group is examining how dairy companies can achieve 100% recyclability of packaging, incorporate more recycled content and reduce post-consumer packaging going to landfill.

Nestle
Nestle announced it will label all its packaging with recycling information by 2020, including its Australian operations.

Farm level recycling initiatives
The dairy industry remains a significant sponsor of the Australian silage wrap and plastic recycling scheme, Plasback.

Collaborations with Monash University
Major dairy industry players such as Bega and Saputo have joined forces with Monash University to utilise new drying technologies to extend the life and improve the quality of powdered dairy products.

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Review industry progress against each commitment

  • COMMITMENT 1

    How we're tracking on community, industry and investment.

    Read more
  • COMMITMENT 2

    How we're tracking on providing nutritious, safe, quality dairy food.

    Read more
  • COMMITMENT 3

    How we're tracking on the health and welfare of all our animals.

    Read more
  • COMMITMENT 4

    How we're tracking on climate change and stewardship of our natural resources.

    Read more