The dairy industry is closely related to people’s daily lives. The production and consumption of dairy products in China are rapidly growing. Since 2015, milk production in China has ranked third in the world and in 2016, the output of dairy products in China reached 29.93 million tonnes.
Water resources are of vital importance for the dairy industry. Dairy products consume large amounts of water during their life cycle, from the growing of feedstuff, providing drinking water for cows, flushing and cooling the cowshed, treating wastewater, to the production and consumption of dairy products. On average, 10 tonnes of tap water are needed to produce per tonne of dairy products.
“Water resources are of vital importance for the dairy industry”
In addition to water quantity, water quality is equally important and sensitive for the dairy industry, which requires high quality clean water to ensure the safety and quality of the dairy products. Therefore, “safe, high-quality and reliable” water resources are crucial to the sustainable development of dairy enterprises.
Why Bright Dairy & Food?
At present, there are more than 700 dairy enterprises in China. Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd. is a diversified joint-stock company, with national and public capital. Bright Dairy’s business originated in 1911, and with 100 years of development, it has established a dairy-oriented business which includes producing and selling various dairy products.
Currently, it is one of the largest dairy companies with its own large scale intensive ranches and milk processing plants in China. Its main products contain milk, yogurt, milk powder, cheese, butter and other categories. Overall, the dairy industry is characterised by significant water consumption and great potential water risk.
>700 dairy enterprises in China…
…Bright Dairy & Food is one of the largest with its own large scale intensive ranches & milk processing plants in China
What progress have we seen?
WWF China, in cooperation with Tongji University, assessed the water footprint of dairy products in Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd. This water footprint was found to be useful for better understanding and management of water resources. Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd, partnering with WWF, then made use of the powerful function of the Water Footprint Assessment to navigate its pilot water stewardship journey.
1. Investigation and calculation of water footprint
The project team conducted several on-site surveys in Jinshan Ranch as well as the production workshop of Central Plant in Eastern China of Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd, which are the key areas of the Bright Dairy Supply Chain. The team communicated with the relevant staff and experts in this field. Metres were installed to monitor the water consumption in different processes. Related data was collected and analysed with statistical tools to calculate the direct and indirect water footprint of dairy products.
“The average annual water footprint of cows from the Jinshan Ranch, a large-scale ranch, was 16,400 m3/head”
For the water footprint of production in the ranches, the average annual water footprint of cows from the Jinshan Ranch, a large-scale ranch, was 16,400 m3/head while the annual average water footprint of cows from the middle-scale farm, Xingyi Ranch, was 15,300 m3/head.
For the water footprint of production in dairy plants: the average water footprints of fresh milk produced by the No. 4 Dairy Plant and Nanjing Dairy Co. Ltd (NDCL) were 1,172.80l/kg and 1,299 l/kg, respectively. The average water footprints of yogurt produced by the No. 8 Dairy Plant and the Nanjing Dairy Plant were 1,276.15 l/kg and 2,295 l/kg, respectively (From Annual Report Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd, 2014).
2. Assessment of water footprint
The water use efficiency in Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd was analysed and assessed. During this process, the actual situation of China’s dairy industry was also investigated and analysed.
In addition, this project team analysed the current practices of water management and policies in Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd and identified the best existing practice model of water management in Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd. It then evaluated the water footprint of its products based on this water management best practice.
These analyses helped find the key tech, methods & approaches for water conservation, pollution reduction etc.
Through these analyses, the team identified the potential and direction of reducing the water footprint and helped Bright Dairy & Food Co., Ltd to find the key technologies, methods and approaches for water metering, water conservation, energy saving and pollution reduction, laying a solid foundation for the systematic implementation of enterprise water management.
3. Standards for water footprint assessment China’s dairy industry
Two standards for water footprint assessment to be applied to the dairy industry in China
After reviewing the international water footprint assessment standards, the team discussed with experts from the China National Institute of Standardization and other partners and drafted two standards for water footprint assessment, which are expected to be applicable to the dairy industry in China. One standard is for the ranches, and the other one is for the plants of dairy products.
The next steps….
The successful experience of Bright Dairy & Food will be compiled and recommended to other ranches and plants in China to reduce the water footprint of their products. The team is trying to formulate a formal standard for water footprint assessment methods applicable to the dairy industry in China. If this standard is recognised and issued by the government, it is expected to have positive influence on water management the in dairy industry in China.
Moreover, Bright Dairy & Food has proactively approached WWF and will fully participate in the WWF’s Water Stewardship programme. To date, Bright Dairy’s engagement with the Water Footprint Assessment has generated rich experience and insights on how a dairy company can become a good water steward and contribute to sustainable basin water resource management through understanding its facility and supply-chain water footprint and water risks, establishing company-wide water stewardship mechanism and participating in stakeholder and basin water management programmes.
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