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Environmental impacts of milk powder and butter manufactured in the Republic of Ireland
- Finnegan, William, Goggins, Jamie, Clifford, Eoghan, Zhan, Xinmin
- The Science of the total environment 2017 v.579 pp. 159-168
- acidification, butter, dairy industry, developmental stages, dried skim milk, emissions, energy, environmental impact, eutrophication, factories, farms, food processing, freshwater, gate-to-gate, global warming, manufacturing, milk production, packaging, packaging materials, powders, raw milk, transportation, wastewater treatment, whole milk, Irish Republic
- The abolition of the milk quota system that was in place in Europe was abolished in 2015, which instigated an immediate increase in milk production in many European countries. This increase will aid in addressing the world's ever growing demand for food, but will incur increased stresses on the environmental impact and sustainability of the dairy industry. In this study, an environmental life cycle assessment was performed in order to estimate the environmental impacts associated with the manufacture of milk powder and butter in the Republic of Ireland. A farm gate to processing factory gate analysis, which includes raw milk transportation, processing into each product and packaging, is assessed in this study. Operational data was obtained from 5 dairy processing factories that produce milk powder (4 of which also produce butter).Results for each environmental impact category are presented per kilogram of product. Energy consumption (raw milk transportation and on-site electrical and thermal energy usage) contributes, on average, 89% and 78% of the total global warming potential, for milk powder and butter respectively, for the life cycle stages assessed. Similarly, energy consumption contributes, on average, 86% and 96% of the total terrestrial acidification potential for milk powder and butter respectively, for these life cycle stages. Emissions associated with wastewater treatment contribute approximately 10% and 40% to the total freshwater eutrophication potential and marine eutrophication potential, respectively, for both milk powder and butter production. In addition, packaging materials also has a significant contribution to these environmental impact categories for butter production.Results were also presented for three milk powder products being manufactured by the factories surveyed: skim milk powder, whole milk powder and full fat milk powder. The analysis presented in this paper helps to identify opportunities to reduce the environmental impacts associated with post-farm processing of milk powder and butter.