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Sustainable Dairy

Dairy Product Environmental Footprint project launched.

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In this first week of July, major players of the dairy sector have launched in Brussels the work on the Dairy Environmental Footprint Pilot (‘DAIRY PEF’), which will give results on environmental footprints for dairy products by mid-2016. The DAIRY PEF will develop both, a specific methodology – known as Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules or PEFCR – and communication guidance on the environmental footprint of different dairy products. The methodology and the communication will be tested ‘on the ground’.

The project includes a huge array of environmental issues, including the carbon footprint, but also water use, other different emissions, land use change, and allocation questions.

The dairy project is driven by major actors of the dairy world, including dairy companies like Bel Group, Danone, DMK, Fonterra and FrieslandCampina, Coopérative Laitière de la Sèvre (CLS, a SME dairy), by retail (REWE Group), scientific organisations and other sector representatives (IDF, Actalia, Cniel/Atla, Institut de l’Elevage), governmental bodies (CGDD and Ademe, the French ministry and national agency for environment) and an LCA consultant (Quantis). Several cooperating organisations have also joined the effort to further permit in-depth and high quality coverage of the practical issues and reality of the dairy sector. The project also includes public consultations, which are open to every interested stakeholder.

The framework of the pilot is given by the European Commission’s DG Environment initiative of a “Single Market for Green Products”. A pilot phase of three years was launched in 2013 for non-food products and now in 2014 for 11 food and drink pilots.

EDA, the European Dairy Association, and several actors in the dairy and environmental fields have submitted a joint project application and are committed to work together on assessing the environmental footprint of dairy products. This dairy pilot project has been officially recognised by the Commission as one of the EU framework’s projects. This is a unique occasion to continue working on environmental aspects as a whole dairy sector, in the same pro-active approach already started several years ago by the GDAA (Global Dairy Agenda for Action) and its follow-up initiatives driven by the global dairy industry.

The project will start with assessing existing footprinting methodologies in the dairy sector and identify their limits and differences, in order to develop a single set of rules covering the entire life cycle of dairy products. This methodology will then be tested on existing products on the market by some of the participating companies. The final step will be to develop and test communication tools on this Environmental Footprint, business to business, and also with consumers. It will be important to ensure that the methodology is scientifically robust, the data used is of good quality, and that the communication tools will translate the science and methodology into easily understood messages. Finally, it will be also necessary to make sure the methodology can be rolled-out to a broad spectrum of dairy companies of different sizes and operating models.

The idea of the Commission’s pilot phase is to see if these factors can be sufficiently well addressed, and if such an Environmental Footprint could be used more widely in the future of Dairy and beyond.

“EDA welcomes the decision of the Commission to pursue this dairy project and so now engages in a new step of sustainability efforts, to ensure that the dairy industry maintains a leading position in the future,” concludes Alexander Anton, Secretary General of the European Dairy Association (EDA).

Further information on the product environmental footprint (PEF) pilot phase and on the dairy project can be found on the Commission website.

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