No offset credits: Valio dairy aims to reset milk carbon footprint to zero by 2035

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva


Finnish dairy company Valio aims to reset the carbon footprint of milk to zero by 2035 through its climate programme and with the aid of its recently developed environmental calculator, Carbo. 

Aleksi Astaptsev, development manager at Valio, has been developing the carbon footprint calculator for four years and has trained 1800 dairy farmers in using the tool. 

According to Astaptsev, the individual carbon footprint figures for food products are, at worst, meaningless and misleading because they tell nothing about how the calculation was made.

“A carbon footprint calculation can be done in many different ways, and the result depends on the method of calculation,” he explained.

“The carbon footprint of the milk transported to Valio’s dairies typically varies between 0.7–1.4 CO2e per litre. We calculate the most accurate level possible and with the actual figures of each farm, rather than using figures based on estimates.”

The average carbon footprint of milk is around 2.5 kg of CO2 per litre, and according to the dairy company, the biggest emission reductions can be achieved in dairy farms because around 85-95 per cent of climate impacts of milk are generated in initial production. 

According to Astaptsev, while many products carry a label indicating how many carbon emissions it has offset, these offset credits are usually allocated outside the production chain. For example, reforestation projects in developing countries or picking up plastic waste on another side of the world.

He explains that these offsets do not change the actual carbon footprint of the product and therefore should not be included in the carbon footprint, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) guidelines, and should be referred to as carbon offsets.

“Producers should aim first to avoiding the generation of carbon emissions, then to reducing them, and only then to offsetting them,” he concluded.

Kaycee Enerva

Kaycee Enerva

A digital content manager based in the Philippines, Kaycee Enerva has written for multiple publications over several years. A graduate of Computer Science, she exchanged a career in IT to pursue her passion for writing. She's slowly practicing sustainability through period cups, and eating more plant-based food.


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