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Fonterra amps up plans for sustainability

Fonterra signDairy cooperative Fonterra has released its second annual Sustainability Report, detailing actions towards its environmental, social and economic goals.

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell said that the dairy giant is showing where it’s at and where it needs to get to in sustainability.

“There are areas where we’re leading our industry thanks to the hard work of our farmers, people and partners. But there are also areas where we’ve tried and haven’t hit the mark yet, and the report doesn’t shy away from that,” said Hurrell.

“We have considerable scale and with that comes the opportunity, and the responsibility, to influence for good. That’s exactly what we’re working to do, by producing dairy in a way that cares for people, animals and the land, and brings long-term value to our communities.”

The dairy company said that New Zealand farmers have practiced sustainable dairy processes, with high productivity, year-round pasture grazing and lower use of supplementary feeds. However, it said New Zealand’s industry scale means that dairy’s environmental footprint is of national significance.

“Our farmers have led the way with excluding cows from waterways but other areas are going to take longer, like lowering greenhouse gas emissions both on farm and in manufacturing,” said Fonterra’s director of Sustainability Carolyn Mortland. “Our ambition is to make the best nutrition in a way that regenerates our farms, our country and the world. The challenges associated with this are significant, but we’re committed to making a difference.”

Fonterra recently appointed an independent Sustainability Advisory Panel, headed by Sir Rob Fenwick. The Sustainability Report 2018 was prepared using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards. The report centers on the three pillars of the its sustainability framework – Nutrition, Environment, Community.

Fonterra emphasised the importance of nutrition with its healthy product offerings to address public health challenges, improve access to adequate nutrition and contribute positively to the well being of individuals.

It has also launched a new medical nutrition division to help people age well and recover from diseases. Fonterra said 71 per cent of its everyday and advanced nutrition products meet its Food and Nutrition Guidelines, which were endorsed by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation. The company targets 75 per cent by 2020 and 100 per cent by 2025. About 92 per cent of Fonterra’s products are also electronically traceable, on the way to a target of 100 per cent by 2020.

The dairy cooperative environmental plans include improving the health and biodiversity of land and waters; transitioning to a low-carbon future, improving productivity and minimising waste from farm to consumer.

“The farmers who supply us milk in New Zealand have among the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per litre of milk collected in the world (0.87 per kg CO2-e/kg FPCM). Fonterra farmers have fenced 99.6 per cent of permanent waterways and installed bridges or culverts at 99.9 per cent of regular crossings. This major investment by farmers to keep cows out of waterways is now considered complete, although continued investment will be required to maintain the exclusion,” said Fonterra in a statement.

Since 2003, Fonterra said it has achieved a 19.3 per cent reduction in energy intensity in New Zealand manufacturing against a target of 20 per cent by 2020. It recently converted its boiler at Brightwater to co-fire with wood biomass. The conversion cuts carbon emissions at the site by around 2,400 tonnes a year – roughly the same as taking 530 cars off the road. Fonterra’s Pahiatua manufacturing site also had a recent water recycling innovation which will save about half a million litres of water a day this season.

“2018 marked the half-way point of Fonterra’s 10-year Living Water partnership with the Department of Conservation focusing on five freshwater catchments. Fonterra has committed to help restore another 50 catchments as part of its ambitious water plan. Working with community stakeholders, these catchments have been identified and action planning is underway,” detailed Fonterra.

The company also plans to contribute positively to its communities, including its farmers, suppliers, employees and the wider communities it operates in. The company said that NZ$10.3 billion was returned to New Zealand farmers for the 2017/18 season.

It launched a family violence program in New Zealand and Australia and gained awards in 2018 such as Deloitte Top 200 Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Award and Top Graduate Employer Award in New Zealand. It also halved its gender pay gap in New Zealand from 4 per cent to 2 per cent, against a national average of 9.2 per cent.

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