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Our Environment

We’re focused on protecting the environment by improving the health and biodiversity of its land and waters, transitioning to a low-carbon future, improving productivity and minimising waste from farm to consumer. 

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Sustainable catchments.

We want to see sustainable water catchments in the regions where we operate, and this means working with others to help protect and regenerate the waterways to meet the specific environmental aspirations of the local community.


Improving water quality and use on farm.

In New Zealand, our farmers have fenced 99.6% of permanent waterways and installed bridges or culverts at 99.9% of regular crossings that keep cows out of waterways.


Reducing water use and improving wastewater quality at our manufacturing operations.

This year, we have continued several years of investment in our Pahiatua site, making it our most water-efficient site in New Zealand.

Our Nutrient Management team have been changing the way we treat excess nutrients retrieved from wastewater treatment at some of our sites. 


Reducing on-farm emissions.

Our primary focus is on improving on-farm productivity, with good animal husbandry and feed management examples of where we can continue to improve emissions intensity. In New Zealand, milk solids produced by each cow increased by 1.4% per year on average over the last 28 years, with the strongest improvements from 2007 to 2016.


Investing in breakthrough technologies.

We continue to invest in research and development, primarily through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRC). We want to identify breakthrough technologies which can provide a step reduction in the biological emissions produced by cows.


Energy efficiency.

Through our long-running focus on energy efficiency in New Zealand manufacturing, we have achieved a 19.3% reduction in energy intensity since 2003 against a target of 20% by 2020. This year, that is saving 5.7 petajoules, enough energy to power over 220,000 households in New Zealand.


Transitioning to cleaner sources of energy.

In addition to energy efficiency improvements, we are also progressing changes to alternative, lower emission energy sources. Finding viable alternatives to coal is the first priority in our transition to a low-carbon future and achieving our goal of net zero emissions from manufacturing by 2050.


Using less materials.

Reducing the materials used not only improves transport efficiency, it also means less materials to be recycled, reused or disposed of after consumption.


Investigating solutions.

We continue to investigate packaging and recycling solutions for the more challenging items.


Supporting food banks.

Around the world, we support a number of food bank initiatives. This helps us reduce food waste and provides good nutrition for those who need it most.


Responding to biosecurity incursion.

In July 2017, samples taken from a dairy herd in the South Canterbury region of New Zealand tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis), a bacterium which is widespread internationally but had never been identified in New Zealand before.

Since the incursion was detected we have worked with the Government, sector groups and other dairy companies to minimise the implications to both animal and farmer welfare, and support efforts to eradicate the disease.


Antimicrobial resistance.

We support the prudent use of antibiotics with the aim of optimising therapeutic effect and minimising the risk of developing resistance.

Fonterra’s contribution to the SDGs from a environmental perspective

 Zero hunger
  • Share our dairy expertise with small-scale producers (2.3)
  • Increase productivity through sustainable practices (2.4)
 Clean water and sanitation
  • Reduce the impact of farming and manufacturing on water quality (6.3)
  • Increase water efficiency in areas of constrained supply (6.4)
  • Protect and restore freshwater ecosystems (6.6)
 Responsible consumption and   production
  • Manage and use natural resources efficiently (12.2)
  • Reduce food waste throughout our supply chain (12.3)
  • Reduce waste generation through our operations and product packaging (12.5)
 Life below water
  • Reduce impact of farming and manufacturing on marine ecosystems (14.1)
 Life on land
  • Reduce impact of farming and manufacturing on freshwater ecosystems (15.1)
 Climate action
  • Reduce emissions across our supply chain Support farmers to build resilience to climate change  (13.1)

View the full Sustainability Report 2018

The report was prepared using the internationally recognised Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and has been independently assured.