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Fonterra to Measure and Monitor Carbon Footprint

29 November 2007

Fonterra to Measure and Monitor Carbon Footprint

Fonterra today announced the appointment of the University of New South Wales, Scion and AgResearch to measure the dairy co-operative’s carbon footprint of its major products.

The research, which will begin immediately, aims to measure Fonterra’s carbon emissions across its complete supply chain and identify areas that require targeted programmes for reduction.

Barry Harris, Chair of Fonterra’s Sustainability Leadership Team, says using internationally accepted methodologies will allow comparisons within the global market and provide a base-line from which to measure and improve Fonterra’s carbon footprint.

“There is growing consumer and customer interest globally in seeing the carbon footprint of food products. This research will give us some hard data to put around the gains that we are making through the environmental initiatives we have in place.

“The Government’s recently announced climate change policy will require the disclosure of carbon emissions and further increases the importance of this project,” says Mr Harris.

The work will cover the three distinct parts of Fonterra’s ‘cow to customer’ supply chain:

- ‘On-farm’will cover inputs and outputs related to the production of milk from the farming operation up until it leaves the on-farm milk vat

- ‘Processing’will include the transportation of milk from the on-farm milk vat; the complete manufacturing process including packing and storage at the factory site; through to the product loaded onto transport for delivery

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- ‘Distribution’will include measuring the transportation of the product from the manufacturing site, to the warehouse and its shipping to key destinations internationally.

Fonterra selected a joint partnership between University of New South Wales, Scion and AgResearch because of their experience and use of internationally accepted methodologies and leading reputation around the globe.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has already undertaken an analysis of Dairy Australia’s carbon footprint, using proven methodologies and a leading international carbon footprint software programme. Dr Barbara Nebel of Scion has also already been involved in the data collection, modelling and producing national tools for the forestry industry in New Zealand while AgResearch‘s Dr Stewart Ledgard is the New Zealand representative on the United Kingdom’s Carbon Trust agricultural working group.

Dr Sven Lundie, Chairman of the Taskforce on Life Cycle Inventory and Senior Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales’Centre for Water and Waste Technology (CWWT), says the UNSW group has outstanding experience in both the dairy industry and ecological/carbon footprint calculation.

“CWWT carried out a five-year project for the Dairy Research and Development Corporation, investigating the environmental impacts of the entire Australian dairy industry,” Dr Lundie said.

“We are well positioned in the area of environmental life cycle assessment, life cycle costing, ecological footprint and sustainability in Australia.”

Scion CEO, Dr Tom Richardson says the Crown Research Institute was one of the first organisations in New Zealand to work in the field of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), the internationally recognised tool for the assessment of environmental impacts including the emission of carbon dioxide. Scion was also involved in the development of LCA’s ISO quality standard.

“Scion’s capability in the areas of LCA and energy enables us to offer Fonterra both international expertise and information that is specific to this country. Our researchers have already developed a New Zealand dataset around the provision of electricity; information that is compatible with the software being used in this study and highly relevant to Fonterra’s work in carbon footprinting,” he says.

AgResearch Chief Executive Dr Andrew West says the issue is a complex and challenging one that requires close collaboration between industry and R&D providers.

"Bearing in mind that on-farm emissions contribute the most to the total carbon foot-print of the dairy industry, we believe our proven expertise in carbon footprinting and understanding of New Zealand dairy farm systems will add significant value to the project. AgResearch sees its relationship with Fonterra as an important strategic partnership. We look forward to working with the co-operative and other research partners."

Dr Sven Lundie will lead the project team while AgResearch will provide expertise and data for the on-farm research.

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