Arla cuts greenhouse gases in infant formula production

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Biogas engines
Biogas engines

Related tags Sustainability Infant formula Greenhouse gas CO2 emissions

Arla Foods Ingredients is investing in its dry blend lactose production capacity to help infant formula manufacturers cut emissions by up to 25%.

The global leader in natural whey ingredients also says it expects to achieve CO2 savings of around 60,000 tonnes in 2020 by using energy from biogas. 

The two initiatives are part of Green Ambition 2050, the sustainability strategy of parent company, Arla Foods amba, which aims to become carbon net-zero by 2050.

Since 2019, the firm has received methane from a biogas plant which processes manure from Arla farms, as well as production waste.

At each of Arla Foods Ingredients’ two largest production plants, there are two 4,000 horsepower biogas engines. They convert the methane into over 50 GWh of electricity each year – equivalent to the amount used by 11,600 households.

In 2019, CO2 ​emissions from the two plants totalled 105,000 tonnes. Without the use of biogas, they would have emitted 167,000 – a reduction of 62,000 tonnes. A similar saving is forecast for 2020, despite increased production.

Now, greener sources such as biogas supply over 30% of the energy needs of the company’s production facilities in Denmark.

Henrik Andersen, CEO at Arla Foods Ingredients, said: “Sustainability is part of our DNA. Arla Foods Ingredients has always been an example of a circular economy because we convert whey, which used to be considered waste, into high-value food and nutrition products. Now we’re taking new steps to reduce our carbon footprint and help protect the environment for future generations. Reducing our use of fossil fuels and investing in greener energy sources such as biogas is an essential element of this ambition.”

Energy efficient lactose

The firm also offers a dry blend lactose that helps infant formula manufacturers reduce their energy usage.

Lactose is usually supplied in a wet blend which has to be heat-treated and spray-dried before packaging – a highly energy-intensive process. Whereas Arla's dry blend version can be added after the other ingredients have been mixed removing the need to dissolve the blend and spray-dry it again.

Using this dry blend can reduce manufacturers' CO2 ​emissions by as much as 25% – or up to 150kg of CO2​ per ton of finished product, according to Arla.  

What's more, this process can "dramatically increase" output without significant capital investment. 

Henrik Andersen said: “Like us, our customers are increasingly focused on becoming more energy-efficient, and the use of dry blend lactose is a great way for formula manufacturers to reduce their emissions. By increasing the amount we’re able to offer them, we hope to help them meet their sustainability goals, as well as guaranteeing consistent quality.”

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