Words by Smiley Team
Ben & Jerry's is on a mission to reduce dairy greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Its latest project? Project Mootopia.
Unilever’s €1 billion Climate & Nature Fund is helping their brands take meaningful action to protect nature – and Project Mootopia is supported by the fund.
Because dairy ingredients account for more than 50% of Ben & Jerry’s total greenhouse gas emissions, the brand is focusing on dairy farms as the best opportunity to reduce its carbon footprint.
The pilot will use a mixture of new technology and regenerative agricultural practices to bring the greenhouse gas emissions from 15 of the company’s dairy farm suppliers down to half the industry average, by the end of 2024.
"But that’s just the beginning," they say. "Once these pilot initiatives have been proven effective, our plan is to expand Project Mootopia to farms across our entire global dairy supply chain. That could make a serious difference in the fight against climate change."
The ice cream company has been working with dairy farmers, scientists, academics, and researchers in the US and in Europe to figure out the best ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Project Mootopia brings together everything we’ve been learning," they say. "It’s a comprehensive, collaborative approach to fighting the climate crisis that addresses three critical aspects of dairy farming: enteric emissions, manure and feed crops."
The pilot project will also promote renewable energy on dairy farms, they say, and continue their long tradition of making sure our cows are healthy and well cared for. It will also help Ben & Jerry’s learn what works from a technical standpoint and how the different practices might impact other parts of the farm, for example operating expenses or milk production.
“This approach to dairy farming could be a game changer,” said Jenna Evans, Global Sustainability Manager for Ben & Jerry’s. “It has the potential to make a meaningful reduction in emissions on dairy farms and help fight the worst effects of climate change. All of us, especially businesses, must take action before it’s too late and the climate crisis makes our world uninhabitable.”
The 15 participating farms will be split between members of the Dairy Farmers of America cooperative in the US and CONO Kaasmakers in the Netherlands. Once proven, there are plans to scale successful practices and technologies from the project across the brand’s dairy supply chain, and possibly throughout Unilever’s dairy network. The practices will also be made public so the entire dairy industry can benefit.
“Too often, corporations buy up carbon offsets from somewhere else to claim they are ‘carbon neutral’,” said Taylor Ricketts of the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont. “Ben & Jerry’s is taking a more meaningful and direct approach: attacking the systemic causes of climate change in its own supply chain to achieve measurable, science-based targets.
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