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The UK Dairy Roadmap is a pioneering cross-industry initiative which brings the entire dairy community together to continuously improve environmental sustainability of the sector.

Dairy UK, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the National Farmers Union (NFU), with the support of dairy farmers, milk processors and wider industry, have been working together since 2008 under the umbrella of the UK Dairy Roadmap.

We are working hard to reduce the sector’s environmental impact, including improvements to water usage, waste management and energy efficiency.

In 2021 the Roadmap raised its ambitions for the UK dairy sector, publishing its climate ambition paper outlining its commitment to reach Net Zero by 2050.

What does sustainability mean to dairy?

The dairy sector is in a unique position – we have key roles to play in food security and environmental stewardship.

More than 80% of the world’s population regularly consume nutrient-dense dairy products. Milk accounted for 16.4% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2020 and was worth £4.4bn in market prices.

All food production has an environmental cost, but we are committed to continuously improving our environmental practices. Increasing efficiency and reducing environmental impact is a win-win for all farmers.

We’re working hard to do the right thing for people and the planet.

How does the UK Dairy Roadmap work?

The UK Dairy Roadmap sets ambitious targets for environmental improvements within the industry. Targets are developed in line with the latest scientific research, with input from all dairy stakeholders.

Our end goal is a sustainable industry that delivers nutritious, delicious dairy products whilst contributing to the rural economy, supporting livelihoods and protecting the environment.

The Roadmap contains targets for water, climate change & energy, waste & recycling, soils, biodiversity and air quality.

Ultimately this is about ensuring that we are accountable not just to our supply chain, the public and policy makers, but to ourselves.

How do we measure success?

The UK Dairy Roadmap undertakes annual environmental benchmarking of dairy processors and is developing a UK-wide database of farm data to track progress against data-driven sector targets.

The undeniable strength of the Roadmap lies in its collaborative approach, working throughout the dairy supply chain to coordinate effective and evidence-led action on sustainability, and it’s an approach which has yielded impressive results.

UK dairy processors, for example, have achieved a 20% improvement in primary energy efficiency (kWh/tonne) and a 20% increase in water efficiency (m3/tonne) since 2008.

Production efficiency gains at farm level have resulted in a 22% decrease in the emissions from producing a litre of milk since 1990.