About

Fonterra is a global dairy nutrition company owned by 10 000 farmers and their families. Read about our company and about our farmers and markets.

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Reducing Our Footprint

On-farm greenhouse gas emissions.

The main contributor to our overall carbon footprint is the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from dairy farm production systems, primarily from cows. As ruminant animals, dairy cows produce methane during digestion, emitted mainly through burping. Nitrous oxide is emitted from dairy pasture too, as the urine and faeces produced by the cows and the fertilisers applied are broken down. Both methane and nitrous oxide are significant GHGs, making up the majority of the emissions in the production of dairy products.

Other sources of on-farm emissions include use of energy and electricity in farm operations and milk cooling, and emissions relating to farm inputs such as feed and fertiliser.

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Riparian management.

Riparian management is a key activity to improve water quality, enhance ecosystem health and improve biodiversity. Fencing defined waterways prevent cows excreting directly into waterways and protects river and stream banks from cows grazing on them, which helps limit erosion. Planting along river and stream banks also help with erosion by filtering sediment. It also filters nutrient run-off, provides shade for the water for cooling and encourages increased land and water-based biodiversity.

At the end of May 2017, our farmers have essentially delivered on the targets to keep stock out of all permanent waterways on their dairy farms, through fencing 98.4 percent of the entire length of these waterways and installing bridges or culverts for 99.8 percent of all crossings. This work is independently inspected and verified. A specific process is now being followed by the few remaining farmers who have work outstanding.

Riparian zone

We are working with our farmers to have documented riparian management plans in place for 100 percent of farms by the end of the 2019-20 season. Within the plan key activities are identified specific to each farm’s location and waterways and include planting decisions and the approach for ongoing protection and maintenance of the plants to deliver long-term benefits for waterways.

We have not made as much progress in this area as originally planned – at the end of FY17 four percent of our farmers had a documented plan in place. However, through the additional SDAs and the services they will be offering, including Farm Environment Plans, we expect accelerated progress over the next three years.

Soil health.

Soil is vital for food production and underpins the success of the dairy industry. Globally, soils are under pressure from increases in population, higher demands for food and competing land uses. Already approximately 33 percent of global soils are degraded1 and significant global effort is required to address this issue.

Soil faces different challenges in different countries and regions. In New Zealand, compaction, erosion, and changes in soil carbon are the key challenges. Given the complex interaction between soil and the whole farm system, we need to take an integrated approach to improve soil health. Our current work to support farmers with nutrient and riparian management, to reduce our impact on water quality, is also how we will make the biggest difference to soil health and reduce erosion. Through work with industry partners, we are also helping to increase the adoption of farm practices which reduce soil compaction. Most of this effort focuses on restricted grazing practices and appropriate stand-off infrastructure during periods of soil saturation, for example, grazing in winter.2


 

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Solid waste.

Waste minimisation

Raw milk from our supplying farmers is our largest input material. To maximise the nutritional value we deliver to our customers and consumers, we focus on minimising food loss across our supply chain. This also helps us deliver the maximum return to our supplying farmers and minimise our impact on the environment.

 

In our manufacturing operations our food safety and quality standards aim to deliver products right-first-time and our processing steps seek to capture by-products that were previously considered waste, such as whey, and make them into new valuable products.

 

The majority of our solid waste is a by-product of manufacturing practices; for example, packaging, damaged product and personal protective equipment that cannot be reused or recycled.

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Solid waste to landfill

Minimising our solid waste to landfill is part of our long-standing environmental efficiency programme across our New Zealand manufacturing sites.

 

We achieved our previous target of 90 percent of solid waste diverted from landfill several years ago. This was an important achievement, but we can do more; so, therefore we have set a new target for a 20 percent reduction in solid waste to landfill by 2020 from a FY15 baseline.

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Waste to landfill.

FY15 New Zealand Waste to Landfill FY17 New Zealand Waste to Landfill FY17 Global Waste to Landfill
4,969 tonnes 4,598 tonnes 14,382 tonnes

This target applies to our New Zealand sites only at this stage, but the aspiration behind it extends to all of our operating markets. Our waste performance data is incomplete for many operating markets over past years.

We collected and reported our global combined waste to landfill for the first time in FY17. We intend to use this information to set a robust baseline in order to build a global reduction target.


 

Performance targets.

Indicator Target Performance Commentary
Solid waste sent to landfill 20% reduction by 2020 from FY15 baseline (NZ) 7.5% reduction cumulative to FY17 This represents 37% progress in 40% of time span.

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Our stories

Explore stories from our farmers and employees, about who we are and what we do in our local communities, regions, country and around the world.

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