Tuesday, May 26, 2015

There's coal in the milk

Stuff this morning exposes the New Zealand dairy industry's dirty secret: there's coal in the milk:

For the most recent year that data is available (2013) from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand's largest company used 410,000 tonnes of coal to turn liquid milk into powder, earning total revenue of $22 billion in 2014. Altogether the dairy industry burns 512,811 tonnes of coal.

Based on one tonne of coal producing 2.86 tonnes of carbon dioxide, Fonterra's coal-powered factories pump out 1.17 million tonnes of the climate warming gas. Add to that its gas-powered plants and tanker fleet, and the company becomes one of New Zealand's top greenhouse gas polluters.

Fitzsimons said that was "without mentioning cows and the methane they produce".

Which is a bit of a problem for an industry whose selling point is that its "clean and green". And its very easy to imagine the sorts of ads the environmental movement could run in Europe about this if Fonterra doesn't clean up its act. Fonterra's farmer-shareholders might want to consider the reputational and economic risk its dirty energy policies pose to their future income.