Tillamook Sets Forth Sustainability Goals
Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is aiming to meet its net-zero goal with a 30% reduction in Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030.
Its goals include:
- Achieve greenhouse gas neutrality
- Optimize water use efficiency while maximizing recycling
- Improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients
“At TCCA, our farmers operate with the next generation in mind,” said Paul Snyder, executive vice president, stewardship, TCCA. “Since our founding in 1909, our farmer-owners have built everything with a long-term outlook to ensure that farms and communities are here for generations to come. That’s why being good stewards of cows and farms, of people and products, of our communities and the environment, is central to everything we do.”
In the United States, the dairy industry contributes 2% of total GHG emissions. While the industry has reduced emissions per gallon of milk by more than 60% since the 1940s, TCCA stated it acknowledges there is more work to be done to drive down total emissions.
TCCA’s environmental sustainability goals are backed by its newly developed Climate Action Plan that defines strategies for making climate-related progress over time. Snyder explains that in the past year, TCCA has worked collaboratively across all departments to outline more than 25 strategies to help achieve the 2030 target. TCCA also teamed with an external consultant to calculate an emissions benchmark, as well as related goals.
“The electricity, steam, and fuel that we use at our processing plants and to power our offices and fleet account for only 3% of our total emissions (Scope 1 and 2 emissions),” said Snyder. “The biggest challenge we face in meeting our climate commitment will be engaging our supply chain partners to reduce Scope 3 emissions, which make up 97% of our total emissions.”
TCCA is adopting a multi-faceted approach to its climate action plan involving its facilities and fleet, on-farm practices and packaging.
Facilities & Fleet
As part of the Climate Action Plan, TCCA will invest in improvements to its facilities and fleet, while working with its supply chain partners on the following actions:
- Energy Efficiency: In 2021, TCCA already implemented energy reduction initiatives that will save an estimated 200,000 kWh and 142 metric tons of CO2-eq annually. Moving forward, TCCA will continue to identify and act on energy-saving projects.
- Renewable Energy: Currently 85% of the electricity TCCA purchases is from renewable sources. Through investments in on-site renewables, renewable energy certificates (RECs), or a combination of both, TCCA will strive to reach a goal of 100% by 2030.
- Sustainable Fleet Transition: TCCA is developing near-term strategies to convert its fleet of
16 diesel trucks to alternative, low-carbon fuels with the goal of full conversion by 2030. They are also using new technology to improve driving habits that will improve safety and increase MPG and are partnering with external carriers through the EPA SmartWay program.
- Reducing Food Waste: In 2020, TCCA joined the 10x20x30 Food Loss and Waste Initiative, committing to a goal of 50% reduction in food waste in its processing plants by 2030. By diverting food waste to animal feed or by avoiding it all together, TCCA can further reduce emissions.
- Dairy Biodigesters: Digesters use innovative technology to convert manure waste into energy or renewable natural gas, fertilizer, and bedding – a practice many TCCA farmer-owners and milk suppliers are adopting.
- Manure Additives: TCCA is piloting an all-natural manure tank additive on farms in Tillamook County that reduces odor and has been shown to reduce methane by 20%. Currently, 20 farms are using the additive in manure tanks.
- Enteric Emissions: Cows have amazing digestive systems that can convert grass, corn and agricultural by-products into healthy food, but this results in enteric emissions – cow burps. TCCA will continue to track innovations in feed additives such as seaweed and other supplements that show potential in reducing enteric emissions. Effective and available supplements will be trialed and championed within our cooperative.
- Regenerative Agriculture Practices: Cover cropping, low or no till, and compost application have been proven to reduce GHG emissions while building soil health, enhancing microbial communities, and improving water quality. Currently, 95% of TCCA farmer-owners practice cover cropping and many utilize both low till and compost application to feed production areas. These types of practices will be an important step in helping to achieve the established goals.
The Climate Action Plan also includes TCCA’s packaging goals that were announced in 2021. The packaging goals include specific measures such as increasing recycled content to 50% for paper packages and 20% on average for plastic packages by 2025. TCCA funded a life-cycle assessment that found making these changes could significantly reduce GHG emissions from their packaging portfolio. Additionally, TCCA is committing to a goal of 100% of its packaging solutions to being recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2030.
“Our Climate Action Plan is a roadmap – not a GPS. Implementation will require perseverance and continued collaboration across our cooperative and externally with our supply chain and customers,” said Snyder. “While we don’t have all the answers, we do have a dedication to continuous Improvement, a challenger mindset and inspiration from our farmers that will help protect and preserve our ecosystems now and for future generations.”
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