September 21, 2021
Fonterra's sustainability score card shows good progress
Fonterra has recently released its sustainability score card summarising progress towards its people and environmental targets.
Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray said "transparently reporting across a range of sustainability metrics is very important" for Fonterra.
"At the time of our annual results release… we will also publish our fifth sustainability report. This covers in detail our activities across business, people and environment, three vital ingredients for a sustainable co-operative. In advance of that, we are sharing a summarised scorecard covering the people and environmental aspects," Whineray added.
One of the biggest ones is the 11% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from coal in a single year, primarily through the conversion to renewable wood pellets at Fonterra's Te Awamutu site in New Zealand. This represents a major step towards delivering the cooperative's 2030 target and its goal of getting out of coal by 2037. Fonterra said it is pleased to see the project winning the Low Carbon Future category at the New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards.
"Having committed to get out of coal by 2037 from the nine remaining sites, Te Awamutu provided material GHG reductions and further confidence to undertake our next project at our Stirling cheese site in the South Island. Stirling will become our first 100% renewable thermal energy site," Whineray said.
"We are already one of the most carbon efficient producers of dairy nutrition in the world, and there is more to be done. It is important we continue to make progress in our operations to complement the significant innovation and change by our farmer owners. One of the ways we're supporting their on-farm activity is through The Co-operative Difference."
This season, The Co-operative Difference payment for milk comes into effect. In addition to valuing milk quality, it rewards farmers for on-farm demonstration of care for the environment, animals, people and community.
For the 2020/21 season, there was a 25% increase in farms achieving Te Tihi (the top) and Te Puku (the midpoint), with around a third of Fonterra's farmer owners recognised in the overall programme.
53% of farmers in New Zealand also have tailored Farm Environment Plans, up from 34% last year. Fonterra is on track to meet its target of 100% by 2025 and these are provided free of charge to all Fonterra farmers.
"Considering our people goals, whilst there has been improvement towards our diversity targets, there is room for improvement when it comes to women and ethnic minorities in senior leadership positions. Our gender pay gap has narrowed across all job categories. In New Zealand, the co-op is now down to 3.8% on a median basis, compared to the national average of 9.5%," Whineray said.
"We are pleased to see employee engagement increasing with more teams in the top quartile and the Co-op was just shy of being in the top quartile overall."
Fonterra also highlighted other progress including:
- The cooperative was a finalist at this year's Sustainable Network Awards, for a project at Maungaturoto where, for the first time, it is using a natural wetland process to help it recycle water for reuse at the site;
- Fonterra was awarded the Low Carbon Future Award at the New Zealand Energy Excellence Awards for the Te Awamutu conversion;
- New Zealand on-farm GHG footprint increased slightly partly due to the increased proportion of PKE in supplementary feed;
- 94% of packaging on products sold in Australia are now made from recycle-ready materials;
- Fonterra continued to invest in R&D to find on-farm methane mitigation solutions, including a seaweed trial, the Kowbucha™ project and its partnership with DSM which look to limit methane production from cows;
- Since the Living Water partnership with New Zealand's Department of Conservation began, Fonterra had carried out 36 trials for tools and solutions, with nine of these being further developed for wider use;
- Fonterra has delivered 48% of its 128 partnership actions in the first three years of its sustainable catchments programme.