NEW ZEELAND – French dairy giant, Danone has unveiled that it will be investing US$26.5 million (NZD40 million) in its Nutricia spray drying plant in New Zealand to help the site achieve carbon neutrality by 2021.

According to a report by Food Bev, the company will install a US$19.9 million (NZD 30 million) biomass boiler that will reduce the plant’s Carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year.

Located in Balclutha, in the Otago region, the facility processes raw milk sourced from 18 local farms into powder that is used as the base for production of infant milk formula brands such as Aptamil and Karicare.

The company says that boilers play a central role in spray drying – a processing technology that converts milk into a dry powder through the application of heat – with around 85% of the entire plant’s energy consumption coming from steam production.

Danone will be investing in a biomass boiler powered by sustainable wood fuels, which will be sourced locally. The investment also includes the installation of a new water treatment plant.

Cyril Marniquet, Danone’s New Zealand operations director, said: “This significant investment, in what we expect to be New Zealand’s first carbon-neutral plant of its kind, underscores Danone’s global ‘One Planet.

“One Health’ vision and the belief that the health of people and planet are interconnected. We share the New Zealand government’s ambitions in delivering a low-emissions, climate-resilient future.

“At Danone, we’ve set ourselves an objective of becoming a carbon-neutral company across our entire scope – from farm to family – by 2050. It is through key investments like this one that we take a step forward towards reaching this ambition.”

Global resource management company Veolia will design and manage the construction of the biomass boiler, which Alexandre Lagny, New Zealand general manager for Veolia, said:

“Veolia has supported Danone with the development of the biomass project, aligning available biomass resources with optimal conversion technologies, while leveraging the company’s operational expertise to achieve the best possible environmental footprint for the site.”

Earlier this year, Danone opened a US$264 million Nutricia facility in the Netherlands, allowing it to produce specialised infant formula for children with specific medical conditions.

The facility represents one of the company’s largest investments anywhere in its European production network during the last ten years.