NEW ZEALAND– New Zealand’s largest dairy processors Fonterra aims to reduce its carbon footprint at its Brightwater milk processing plant after the site converted its boiler to co-fire with wood.

The conversion of the boiler will slash the amount of coal used at the site and will cut carbon emissions at the site by around 2,400 tonnes a year –or removing 530 cars off the road, according to Fonterra.

Robert Spurway, Fonterra COO Global Operations, says the Brightwater boiler conversion is part of Fonterra’s plan to reduce emissions across all sites.

“We’ll take what we learn from this conversion and apply it to our longer-term co-firing strategy for other boilers across the country. Brightwater shows what’s possible when it comes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.”

He says that curtailing emissions requires a multi-faceted approach, with the company receiving support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

The company says it has achieved a significant step in its Road Map to Transition to a Low Emissions Future, developed with the country’s Ministry for the Environment last year.

“We’re serious about meeting our targets to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 and net zero by 2050 across all New Zealand operations. Achieving them will involve a combination of energy options and energy efficiency gains.”

“On the electrification front, we’ve been exploring a number of options. We’ve completed a feasibility study to convert our Edendale operations to electricity and in August announced our plan to replace coal with electricity at our Stirling site in South Otago,” Spurway added.

Andrew Caseley, EECA’s Chief Executive, says that the project demonstrates how co-firing can be used to reduce energy emissions for process heat.

“Co-firing has wide potential for replication with other businesses that use coal boilers, with the ultimate goal of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy.”

He added that Fonterra is serious about supporting New Zealand’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the global goal of keeping temperature change to well below 2 degrees.

“Achieving New Zealand’s climate ambitions requires a sustained and collaborative approach with business, Government and NGO’s. EECA support for the Brightwater boiler conversion is an example of how we can successfully work together to achieve positive outcomes for the environment,” he said.

Th deal with EECA was signed in May this year, with the company receiving financial support from the Authority.

Other initiatives by the company to boost its sustainability credentials include a US$11 million investment in an advanced reverse osmosis plant at it’s Darfield manufacturing site that will reduce the amount of groundwater extracted by 70%.

Fonterra plans to invest US$250 million to drive a 20% reduction in water use across its 26 manufacturing sites.

It also plans to have 100 electric vehicles within its light vehicle fleet by 2019 by introducing biofuel into its tanker fleet.