US – Darigold, an American farmer-owned dairy cooperative, is investing US$500 million into the development of a new specialized milk protein and butter facility in Washington, US, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

According to Darigold, the investment is the clearest indication yet, that the brand owned by Northwest Dairy Association is committed to its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. 

The new 400,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility will reportedly feature anaerobic digestion technology and electric vehicle infrastructure designed to accommodate future electric vehicles. 

“Darigold’s state-of-the-art facility will use the latest technology, serve as a model of sustainability, and create a new market for our region’s agricultural producers,” said Randy Hayden, the Port of Pasco’s executive director. 

The dairy giant says the anaerobic digestion technology will be deployed as part of the facility’s on-site wastewater treatment strategy. 

The extracted methane will then be used as a natural gas substitute, reducing fossil fuel use, and will be complemented with machinery that enables heat and energy recovery and reuse. 

When combined, Darigold says its innovative technologies and conservation strategies could mitigate over 300,000 metric tons of CO2e per year; and cut per-unit emissions by 25% compared to its existing baseline. 

The project, located within the Port of Pasco, is expected to start in early 2022 with full commercial production targeted for late 2023 or early 2024. 

The site will have access to both rail and barge facilities, reportedly reducing the distance trucks travel for milk pickups and deliveries by 5 million miles annually. 

Once in full operation, the facility will process around eight million pounds of milk a day and is expected to create over 1,000 onsite and indirect supply chain and service jobs. 

Investing in sustainable dairy

Investments in sustainable dairy production have started gathering momentum as producers work to reduce their impact on the environment.  

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the dairy industry contributes 2% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.   

Furthermore, a recent study by the University of Minnesota has attributed 1,800 deaths per year to air pollution from dairy operations, surpassing those from poultry and egg production.     

All these facts, make investment on sustainable dairy practices even more important, more so now when consumers are increasingly becoming conscious about the impact of the environmental impact of the products they buy. 

Earlier, Hershey Company and Land O’Lakes partnered on a new initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at Pennsylvania dairy farms and improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.   

The Sustainable Dairy PA initiative will support agricultural conservation practices at 119 Land O’Lakes member dairy farms in Central Pennsylvania that ship at least half of their milk to Hershey. 

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