US – Unilever-owned premium Ice Cream brand Ben & Jerry’s has launched a new pilot project targetted at helping dairy farmers cut down on green house gas emissions produced in their farms.
Known as Project Mootopia, the new pilot project is part of Unilever’s €1 billion (US$1.06 billion) Climate & Nature Fund helping brands take meaningful and decisive action to tackle climate change and restore and protect nature.
According to Unilever, Project Mootopia aims to bring down greenhouse gas emissions on 15 dairy farms to half the industry average by 2024 by using a mixture of new technology and regenerative agricultural practices.
The 15 participating farms are split between members of the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative in the US and CONO Kaasmakers in the Netherlands.
Once the initiative is proven successful, it will be expanded to farms across Ben & Jerry’s global dairy supply chain, Unilever said.
According to the company, dairy ingredients currently account for more than 50% of Ben & Jerry’s total greenhouse gas emissions and the brand is focusing on dairy farms as the best opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint.
Project Mootopia is providing a mixture of feed additives that can inhibit micro-organisms in the rumen that account for 50 quarts (50l) of climate-warming carbon dioxide and methane gas, a cow produces every hour by belching.
Along with the feed additives, it is also providing a high-quality forage diet to help aid in the cow’s digestion which will result in less methane produced by the cow.
The largest of the cow’s 4 stomachs is called the rumen which has microbes that work to break down larger carbohydrate molecules found in plant cells into simple sugars through fermentation.
Additionally, the project is zeroing to minimize the impact of methane by employing methane reduction technology, like manure digesters and separators, which can be used to produce both renewable electricity and animal bedding from animal manure.
The world’s soils act as the planet’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, playing a key role in reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, has motivated the project to recommend growing more grass and using regenerative practices to grow corn and other crops that will remain a part of a dairy herd diet.
According to Ben & Jerry, the practice will help maintain healthy soils, increase carbon sequestration, lower synthetic inputs, promote biodiversity, and raise the quantity of feed homegrown for cows to eat.
Moreover, Project Mootopia is expected to help the company meet the emerging demand for delicious ice cream that is climate-friendly other than its commitment to dairy farmworker rights.
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