Food waste – what is it? It's not something dairy farmers consider on a daily basis, but it is something that happens on a daily basis within the industry.

Milk produced is lost out of the system at every step in the chain and the challenge is to minimise what’s wasted.

At the processing stage, at the packaging stage, on the shop shelf or at home in the fridge, whether we like it or not some dairy product is lost that is effectively wasted.

In this week’s webinar, special guest Yvonne Cooney, head of sustainability at Ornua, described one scenario at the moment which the industry is working on for the airline industry where tonnes of butter is made in small 5g packages.

However, with COVID-19 restrictions on the aviation industry, it is simply not needed. This butter needs to be redirected into another avenue rather than wasted.

This is just one example of a change project that needs to be co-ordinated and managed. The same way there are always product ranges that go in and out of use-by dates that need to be redirected rather than wasted.

Packaging waste is another element that has come under the microscope much more in recent years within the dairy industry.

Yvonne describes a situation where a change in packaging from the Ornua processing facility in Leek has effectively saved 340t of plastic packaging brought about by small changes over a number of years.

This year, it had a breakthrough in packaging on the Pilgrims Choice cheese brand and ultimately reduced the size of the package by 40%, which will bring about another 110t reduction in 2020.

On top of that, this new technology is going to be adopted by Tesco and that will result in another 95t reduction of packaging required.

These are just some of the tangible changes the industry is working on. For an insight into this, watch the video above.

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