Aurora Organic Steps Back on Carbon Footprints

US - Aurora Organic Dairy, a leading U.S. provider of high-quality, private-label organic milk and butter, today announced a major initiative with the University of Michigan to measure and reduce its carbon footprint across the entire product lifecycle, from cattle feed to cartons in retail dairy cases.
calendar icon 9 January 2008
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This research is believed to be the most comprehensive carbon emissions reduction initiative undertaken in the organic dairy industry, and will be funded by the newly established Aurora Organic Dairy Foundation.

Also announced today, the Aurora Organic Dairy Foundation is a Colorado-based not-for-profit organization that will fund research, market-development initiatives and community-building activities benefitting organic agriculture, including farmers, processors, consumers, animals and the environment.

"Our goal is to evaluate what we do on our farms and throughout our supply chain, and to develop tools for guiding our company and enhancing our sustainability performance."
Dr. Keoleian, CSS co-director and research team leader.

The Foundation's first grant of more than $320,000 will fund a long-term research partnership with the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment. With the proceeds of the grant, the center will conduct lifecycle and sustainability research at Aurora Organic Dairy's facilities, including its state-of-the-art High Plains organic dairy farm in Colorado and its Coldwater organic dairy farms in Texas.

Led by associate professor Gregory Keoleian, Ph.D., and Martin Heller, Ph.D., the research initially will focus on developing an energy and carbon footprint model, creating a baseline against which Aurora Organic can make improvements in its sustainability performance.

The center will examine the entire product lifecycle from "seed to shelf," including important measures such as growing pasture and cattle feed, manufacturing, and product distribution to retail customers. The study will identify those processes that contribute the greatest environmental impacts, focused primarily on total energy consumption and carbon emissions. In Phase II, the center will make recommendations for improving Aurora Organic's sustainability performance, including energy supply and demand options, non fuel-related carbon emissions, and energy and greenhouse gasses from material resources such as packaging.

"Aurora Organic Dairy is providing the Center for Sustainable Systems with an excellent opportunity to apply our research expertise and address real challenges faced by organic agriculture producers," said Dr. Keoleian, CSS co-director and research team leader. "We're grateful for this opportunity and look forward to sharing our findings and recommendations with the organic agriculture community to help drive meaningful change in energy consumption and carbon emissions patterns resulting from organic farming."

"This grant from the Aurora Organic Dairy Foundation to the University of Michigan is the first of many that will help fund continued research into development of organic best practices, with a strong emphasis on sustainability," said Mark Retzloff, President and Chief Organic Officer of Aurora Organic Dairy. "Our goal is to evaluate what we do on our farms and throughout our supply chain, and to develop tools for guiding our company and enhancing our sustainability performance. We intend to learn as much as we can about how to make organic agriculture even more sustainable. Our goal is to share what we learn with our network of more than 120 family farmers and the organic agriculture community as a whole."

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