Dairy Processing – Navigating Scope 1, 2, and 3 Emissions

dairy processing emissions

In our recent article we explained the concept of the different emission scopes in the most basic of terms. The next step is to examine what this means in the context of the dairy processing industry.

Dairy processing, a crucial bridge between raw milk collection and the delivery of finished products to consumers, has seen considerable technological advancements over the years. While these advancements have enhanced efficiency and quality, they have also brought forth environmental concerns, most notably, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To comprehensively address the carbon footprint of dairy processing, it’s essential to dissect emissions into Scopes 1, 2, and 3. Here’s what each scope encompasses in this context.

How Dairy Processing Emit Emissions Against the Framework

Scope 1 Emissions: Direct Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions

Direct emissions in dairy processing arise from sources owned or controlled by the processing facility such as:

  • Boilers and Heaters: Many dairy processes like pasteurization require heating. Combustion in boilers and heaters to produce steam or directly heat products results in CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Refrigerants: Coolers and freezers use refrigerants gases that contain fluorine, which, if leaked, can be potent greenhouse gases.
  • Transport Vehicles: If the processing plant owns vehicles for raw milk transport or short-distance movement, the emissions emitted from the vehicles are considered direct.

Scope 2 Emissions: Indirect GHG Emissions from Electricity Use

Emissions under this scope stem from the generation of electricity that the dairy processing facility purchases and consumes:

  • Machinery Operations: Automated machinery for processes like homogenization, separation, or packaging runs on electricity.
  • Cooling Systems: Preservation of dairy products’ quality necessitates refrigeration, which draws considerable electricity.
  • Plant Infrastructure: This covers lighting, air conditioning, and other electrical utilities within the processing facility.

Scope 3 Emissions: Other Indirect GHG Emissions

These emissions are consequential to the dairy processing activities but emerge from sources not directly owned by the facility:

  • Raw Material Transportation: Emissions from vehicles transporting raw milk to the processing plant or taking processed products to distribution centres are in this scope.
  • Packaging: The lifecycle emissions of packaging materials, from production to disposal, belong here.
  • Employee Commute: Emissions from the daily commute of employees can also be a significant contributor, especially in large facilities.
  • Waste Management: This includes emissions from the disposal of waste products or by-products of dairy processing.

To holistically reduce the carbon footprint of dairy processing, it’s imperative to have a stratified approach addressing each scope. While Scope 1 offers direct intervention points like transitioning to energy-efficient boilers or adopting low-GWP refrigerants, Scopes 2 and 3 present opportunities for systemic shifts, such as sourcing renewable electricity or innovating in sustainable packaging.

In conclusion, dairy processing, while essential for delivering quality products, also shoulders a significant environmental responsibility. By delineating its GHG emissions across Scopes 1, 2, and 3, the industry can identify opportunities, drive innovation, and march towards a sustainable future.

OptaHaul is proud to be helping the dairy industry to reduce Scope 1 emissions (owned fleet) and Scope 3 emissions (contracted hauliers) in milk transportation. If you would like to learn more about OptaHaul’s solution and how it can help the dairy industry, contact us today.