The just-launched New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square brand, Simply Milk, costs a little extra. A 2-litre bottle from New World will set you back $4.00, compared to the Value brand bottle at $3.38. For the extra 62 cents, you’ll be contributing to native reforestation in Kaikoura, a hydro power plant in India and energy-efficient cook stoves in Bangladesh. The certified carbon credits are provided by Toitū Envirocare. The equivalent of 2.1 kilograms of carbon dioxide is emitted in the production and delivery of each 2L bottle of milk.
Customers directly using Toitu’s calculator pay about 4 cents per kilogram of carbon dioxide to offset personal emissions (though there’s a minimum offset of 100kg).
Foodstuffs North Island category manager Chris Anderson said shoppers are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of the products they buy. “Plastics are a big one, but certainly at the moment we’re seeing a lot of interest from our customers in carbon.”
Critics argue carbon offset schemes ease guilt, reducing motivation for the transformative decarbonisation required.
Anderson said the offsets are one piece of the wider sustainability puzzle. “We’re looking at everything – can we improve the bottle to be more recyclable? Can we make the manufacturing more efficient? The great thing about the partnership with Fonterra is we can really discuss and affect real change.”
The carbon-neutral brand will offer standard (or blue) and reduced fat (or light blue) milk in 2L bottles – “the most efficient bottle to produce,” Anderson said.
Because the milk is the same as that in bottles of Foodstuffs’ current home brand, Value, the supermarkets and Toitū will be able to ramp up if shoppers overwhelmingly switch to the new brand, he added.
In future, Simply Milk may expand to other types of milk, such as trim and calcium fortified. “If we start getting some really good feedback and requests, we’ll have to look at what else and how big it goes,” Anderson said.
The milk is produced by Fonterra, which contributes 20 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions.
Of that, the vast majority comes from its dairy farms, which emit methane and nitrous oxide as well as burning fossil fuels. Once the milk leaves the farm gate, processing and transport account for 11 per cent of the company’s carbon footprint.
Climate activists typically focus on Fonterra’s use of coal, which it burns to create the 200 degree Celsius temperatures required to dry liquid milk into powder.
As Simply Milk is fresh, there’s no coal used, Fonterra global sustainability director Carolyn Mortland said. Still, natural gas powers the pasteurisation process. “That does produce some emissions, but not as bad as coal… we have a focus on trying to switch out of coal first, but we know that on our journey to being net zero by 2050, we’ll also need to address natural gas.”
Fonterra tankers and delivery trucks run on fossil fuels though “we use rail where we can,” she said.
Although Kiwi milk has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, the company is committed to reducing it further, Mortland said. “We’ve been converting some of our coal boilers.”
Fonterra plans to electrify staff cars and warehouse forklifts, but it is waiting for the technology to develop for larger vehicles, such as trucks and tankers, she said.
The carbon credits for each bottle of milk will be split – 50 per cent will support New Zealand native forest and 50 per cent will fund renewable energy initiatives in countries where Fonterra exports its products.
The renewable energy projects will prevent fossil fuels from being burnt overseas while the trees will permanently suck up carbon dioxide, Toitū Envirocare chief executive Becky Lloyd said.
The partnership also requires Fonterra and Foodstuffs to cut the product’s emissions where possible.
“Emissions need to be radically reduced but there are some categories of emissions where it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to remove altogether,” she said. “Offsetting, in our view, will continue to play a role.”
There’s evidence that organisations who pay for offsets cut their gross emissions more than those that don’t, Lloyd said. “It’s actually the reverse of the greenwashing concern, they take it more seriously.”
The product will be arriving in fridges at New World, Pak’nSave and selected Four Square stores in the North Island from today…You could find more about this article to the website stuff.co.nz HERE – Author: Olivia Wannan