Sustainability

The dairy industry plays a vital role in sustainable, equitable and secure food systems by nourishing people, communities, and the planet.

Individually, dairy companies are balancing the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability throughout their operations. Companies are innovating for the future – finding ways to work more efficiently, develop new technologies, review sourcing options, reduce energy consumption, conserve water and recycle production waste. 

Collectively, the U.S. dairy industry has committed significant resources to achieve ambitious environmental stewardship goals, including net-zero carbon emissions, optimized water use, and improved water quality by 2050. The industry is investing in new technologies and regenerative practices that further reduce dairy’s environmental footprint, optimizing water, energy, and land use. We’re helping communities thrive through the more than 3 million jobs dairy supports in the U.S. and through partnerships that make dairy accessible to those who need it most…now, and tomorrow. And we are focused on product innovation that will fuel personal wellness – mind and body – with a powerful package of nutrients found in no other wholesome food source. 

See below how all participants in the dairy supply chain are working both collectively and individually to significantly lessen our impact on the environment while maintaining a thriving industry that provides essential nutrition to people around the world.

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IDFA Members' Commitments and Impact

For IDFA members, sustainability is a daily, purposeful commitment that touches all aspects of their operations and manifests in sound, responsible business practices. Here are just a handful of ways dairy businesses are taking sustainability into their own hands.

DFA Introduces Nerd Herd, Cites Progress on 2030 and 2050 Sustainability Goals

On World Milk Day 2021, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) introduced the Nerd Herd, a group of engineers, nutritionists, technology experts, scientists to help the dairy cooperative achieve its ambitious 2050 net-zero emissions goal by 2050. DFA also released its 2021 Social Responsibility Report.

Read more.

Tillamook Announces New Packaging, Sustainability Goals

Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) announced new packaging goals aimed at sustainability that include: 

  • Avoid additional and unnecessary packaging while prioritizing the uncompromising quality of its products and the reduction of food waste 
  • Commit 100% of its packaging solutions to being recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2030 
  • Increase recycled content to 20% (on average) in its plastic packaging by 2025 and eliminate use of all virgin plastic by 2035 
  • Source all virgin paper packaging from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified materials and use 50% or more recycled fiber by 2025 
  • Educate consumers on actionable ways to reduce food waste and properly dispose, recycle, or re-use Tillamook packages 

Read more.

Aurora Organic Dairy Achieves Carbon Neutral Goals in 2020

In 2020, Aurora Organic Dairy achieved its goal of 100% carbon-neutral energy across company-owned farms and processing plants, headquarters office, and all raw milk transportation to our plants. This milestone, and other goals around animals, people and planet are tracked on their website at www.auroraorganic.com, and in their sustainability reports.

Sustainability Through The Dairy Supply Chain

U.S. Dairy's Commitments and Impact

The dairy community is working together to conserve natural resources and lower our industry's environmental footprint. Through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the dairy community has set aggressive new environmental stewardship goals to advance dairy’s role in building a sustainable future.

Our 2050 goals support a vision that dairy is an environmental solution, addressing the areas where U.S. dairy collectively can have the greatest impact. 

Specifically, the goals are: 

Net Zero Initiative

The Net Zero Initiative (NZI) is an industry-wide, on-farm effort that will play a key role in helping U.S. dairy continue to make progress toward these goals. Through foundational research, on-farm pilots and development of new product markets, NZI is breaking down barriers to make technology and best practices more accessible and affordable to farms of all sizes and geographies – recognizing there is no one-size-fits-all solution. NZI has four key areas of focus, including feed production, manure handling and nutrient management, cow care and efficiency, and on-farm energy efficiency and renewable energy use.

U.S. dairy is on a journey and remains committed to ongoing progress, to leaving a positive environmental footprint and to doing its part to nourish the planet for future generations.

Read more about NZI


IDFA's Position & Resources

Sustainability begins with caring for the dairy herds that produce our milk and extends throughout the supply chain to ensure responsible sourcing from suppliers who share these same principles, including accountable stewardship of our land, air and water resources, as well as prioritizing health and safety in production areas and the wellbeing of our workforce, and complementing our workforce with best-in-class technology that minimizes an end product’s environmental footprint while delivering safe, affordable, nutritious dairy foods to millions of consumers around the world.

IDFA helps companies identify gaps and find smart solutions that will lead the entire dairy supply chain toward higher levels of sustainability.

Resources for Dairy Companies

Sustainability in Dairy: Getting from Commitments to Real Results

Sustainability in dairy involves much more than reducing our carbon emissions. The companies leading th...

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A Strategic View of Sustainability and Recycling in Dairy Packaging

Dairy companies are looking for strategic packaging technologies and design solutions to help meet sust...

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The Circular Pathway to the Holy Grail: Sustainability Trends in Ice Cream Packaging

IDFA members can view "The Circular Pathway to the Holy Grail: Sustainability Trends in Ice Cream Pa...

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The Dairy Download: Season 2, Episode 5: Sustainably Speaking

Subscribe to The Dairy Download on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. To feed a...

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IDFA Contact & Content Submissions

For more information, contact Andrew Jerome, IDFA Director, External and Member Communications, at ajerome@idfa.org or Danielle Quist, IDFA Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Counsel, at dquist@idfa.org. IDFA members can submit sustainability commitments, reports and media for the Sustainability Recognition Platform here.

Andrew Jerome

Director, External and Member Communications

Danielle Quist

Vice President, Regulatory Affairs and Counsel