Climate and environment

Milcobel
& environment

As the largest dairy cooperative in Belgium, we attach great importance to the environment and our climate and we undertake efforts throughout the entire chain, from cow to customer: in our dairy farms, during transport, and while processing the milk. In addition, we contribute to the conservation of the valuable rural environment and the preservation of pastureland and green fields in Belgium.

Our innovation, projects and activities reflect our ambition towards a sustainable dairy sector, whilst we contribute considerably to the objectives of the climate policy plan by the Flemish government, which aims for a 26% reduction in CO2 emissions caused by cattle farms by 2030, compared to 2005.

We are not alone in our mission to work on sustainable dairy – we do this in close collaboration with all our clients, dairy farmers, employees and external stakeholders, and with attention to the entire chain where our cooperative is involved, from cow to consumer.

Together with research partners like ILVO (the Flanders Research Institute for agriculture, fisheries and food), we work on research projects that are designed to significantly lower the total greenhouse gas emissions of dairy cattle.

Sustainable dairy farming

Our dairy farmer members have been undertaking efforts for multiple years to reduce their environmental footprint and to focus on a system of circular agriculture, where plant-based and animal production chains are connected in a smart way. Using a circular agriculture model, dairy farmers either grow the majority of their own animal feed themselves or they procure it nearby. Cow manure is used for fertilising crop plants on own soil or in the vicinity, which in turn become animal feed again.

77% of our dairy farmers recycle by-products from the food industry, e.g. spent grain and beet pulp for cow feed. Fine-tuning the compounds of feed rations and additives allows us to reduce the methane emissions of our cows. Wherever possible, food waste from our own factories is channeled to agriculture as cattle feed.

  • 91% produce their own roughage
  • 77% of our dairy farmers recycle by-products from the food industry
  • 62% use alternative water sources
  • 40% produce their own electricity

Our dairy farmers are committed to measures that reduce energy consumption in their businesses. An increasing number of them produce their own sustainable energy using manure gas plants and wind and solar power. Our dairy farmers also undertake efforts to improve soil and water quality, through the use of modified fertilisation techniques, low-pressure tyres, the use of alternative water sources (such as rainwater) and the reuse of water through water treatment and reed beds.

Sustainable transport

Transport and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. Using a range of different initiatives, we strive for the most energy-efficient organisation of our milk collection and distribution chain.
  • Fuel consumption per 100L of milk has been reduced by 21% since 2011
  • 98% of our bulk collection vehicles comply with the highest EuroNorm
  • Distance travelled per 1000L of milk has been reduced by 12% since 2011

Sustainable production

Sustainability is also key to the milk processing that takes place on our sites. All our production plants take part on a voluntary basis in the EnergieBeleidsOvereenkomsten (EBO) or Energy Policy Agreements, which are organised by the Flemish government. This way, they commit to taking all energy-saving measures that are economically viable. All our sites have also been awarded the VOKA charter for Sustainable Entrepreneurship.

Our factories in Langemark and Kallo are equipped with cogeneration plants, which cover 90% of their electricity consumption. All our sites use wastewater treatment plants and 56% of the total water consumption in our factories is recycled wastewater of drinking water quality (e.g. for the cleaning of equipment).

  • Energy consumption per 1000L of milk has decreased by 26% in 5 years’ time
  • Water recycling made up 56% of the share of total water consumption in 2018
  • Total water consumption has decreased by 29% in 5 years’ time
  • Water reuse has increased 40% in 5 years’ time

Any questions? Or do you require further info?

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