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Ben & Jerry's launches Project Mootopia to halve GHG emissions from its dairy farms

Thu 12 May 2022 | 08:49 am GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

Project Mootopia will act to cut carbon emissions from dairy farms by as much as 50 per cent

The international ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s has launched a new initiative aimed at cutting the greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50 per cent across the dairy farms it partners within its supply chain. Called Project Mootopia, the move has been billed as a ‘potentially game-changing’ initiative by the team who will implement a trial run across 15 of its dairy farms by the end of 2024. Dairy ingredients have been identified as responsible for more than 50 per cent of the Ben & Jerry’s business’ greenhouse emissions. Should the pilot initiatives be proven effective, the company’s plan is to expand Project Mootopia to farms across its entire global diary supply chain, something, the team states ‘could make a serious difference in the fight against climate change.’ To implement the move, Ben & Jerry’s has been working with dairy farmers, academics, and researchers in the US and in Europe to work out the ‘best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.’ Project Mootopia is therefore a ‘comprehensive, collaborative approach to fighting the climate crisis that addresses three critical aspects of dairy farming.’ These three aspects are: Enteric emissions – this is the tremendous amount of methane released by burping cows. Ben & Jerry’s aims to manage this methane release through a new cow-tested meal plan that includes a high-quality forage diet and innovative feed additives that reduce the generation of methane as cows digest their food. Manure – As well as burping, cows produce a lot of manure – around 80 pounds of the stuff per day. All that manure produces methane, too. However, new technology can reduce its impact through methane reduction systems such as manure digesters and separators which can be used to produce both renewable electricity and animal bedding. Feed crops – Growing more grass and using regenerative practices to grow corn and other crops that will remain a part of a dairy herd diet, will help maintain healthy soils, increase carbon sequestration, lower synthetic inputs, promote biodiversity, and raise the amount of homegrown feed cows eat. The pilot project will also promote renewable energy on dairy farms. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report says that the world has a rapidly closing window of opportunity to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis,” says the Ben & Jerry’s team. “If we want a habitable world, let alone one where people can still enjoy ice cream, then we have to act now. “We also know that to stop climate change, we have to address its systemic causes. That’s why we’ve spent so much time scrutinising our own global supply chain to find out which actions would have the biggest and most meaningful impact. If this programme is a success and more and more farms and businesses adopt similar practices, it really could change the world.” Ben & Jerry’s will be making the findings of its pilot scheme (spanning 15 farms in the US and the Netherlands) available to the public in the interest of sharing best practice and helping the entire dairy industry. “We are at a challenging moment in history, but we’re excited by the opportunity to work closely with farmers to make a difference,” said the team. “It’s time for all of us, businesses especially, to take action and be a force for good. If you love ice cream – and the planet – as much as we do, then we hope you’ll follow our progress as we work to build a climate friendly dairy world with Project Mootopia.”
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