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As a farmer-owned Co-operative established almost 130 years ago, building a better future for all is key to the sustainability of the Lakeland business and its dairy farm families. Our strategy, Pathway to a Better Future, outlines our commitment to producing safe, nutritious and sustainable food products for customers across the globe, whilst working in harmony with the environment. Lakeland Dairies' Pathway to a Better Future is founded on six key pillars which embrace the purpose and vision of the Co-operative.

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Read our ESG Strategy here

Pathway to a Better Future

Sustainbility is at the core of everything we do. From working with our 3,200 farm families who produce 2 billion litres of high quality milk annually to processing that milk for loyal customers in over 100 global markets, we are entirely focussed on being sustainable along each step of the supply chain.

Lakeland Dairies' farm family suppliers are custodians of the land and are adopting the latest pioneering technologies to reduce emissions on their farm. We are supporting this through our farm sustainabiitiy strategy - Farming for a Better Future - which rewards farmers for carrying out environmentally-friendly actvities on their farm. 

Along with our R&D and commerical team, we are always seeking to evolve our world-class products to fit the needs of our customers while ensuring we are doing so in harmony with nature. 

We know that true expertise is the result of a wide cross-section of knowledge. That is why we’ve also established partnerships with a number of world class Irish universities and technical research centres. Our experience means that we understand just how precious our natural resources are too. Together with our research partners, we’re continuously investigating new ways to enhance sustainability across the entire dairy supply chain.

Together, we're shaping a future where sustainability is not just a goal but a way of life for our people, our customers, our farmers and our communities.

Colin Kelly

Lakeland Dairies Group CEO
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We firmly believe that it is our responsibility to operate in a manner that ensures the well-being of our planet for generations to come, while simultaneously providing high-quality and trusted dairy nutrition.

Niall Matthews

Chairperson Lakeland Dairies

Lakeland Dairies is a farmer-owned dairy processing co-operative with a heritage of excellence spanning over 100 years. Our ESG strategy contains six pillars aimed at futureproofing Lakeland Dairies for this generation and the next. We take our commitments seriously and outline some of the steps we are taking today inside the Co-op.

Alan Clarke milks 140 cows in Co. Cavan. His farm has been a Demonstration Farm in the Teagasc Signpost Programme since 2020.

Nestled among the rolling green hills and drumlins of Cavan lies the productive and sustainable farm of Alan Clarke and his family. With 140 cows, Alan’s demonstration farm is part of the Teagasc Signpost Programme which showcases the very best of sustainability in action on farms.

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By adapting to and embracing new technologies, Alan has been able to reduce his carbon footprint by 10% since 2019. As part of this initiative, Alan has undertaken targeted and specific measures to bolster his farm’s sustainability credentials. He has developed a water quality plan to prevent nutrient losses to watercourses and has planted an extensive network of hedgerows along watercourses.

To improve the health and fertility of his soils, he has conducted regular soil analysis and applied ground limestone to correct pH deficiencies. He has incorporated clover into his system to capture nitrogen from the atmosphere and improve forage production.

This has the potential to fix up to 150 kg N/ha/year which can significantly reduce the demand for chemical nitrogen fertiliser.

Other practices Alan has adopted on his farm include a switch in fertiliser type from nitrogen fertiliser to using Protected Urea, Low Emission Slurry Spreading, and reducing the level of protein in his concentrate feed over the summer months.

Alan has also spent years focusing on improving the genetic merit of his herd using the Economic Breeding Index. These efforts place his herd in the top 20% nationally for herd genetics.

Milking 115 cows, Patrick O’Neill and his father Tom are on a journey of farming excellence in Co. Longford. The O’Neill family farm is continually improving and developing, with ambition to produce high-quality milk with the lowest possible carbon impact.

Since 2019, Patrick and Tom have reduced their carbon footprint by 12%. They have placed a huge emphasis on improving soil health and productivity. Soil testing is conducted every two years by Lakeland Dairies. This gives a scientific profile identifying where nutrients are needed most, leading to more precise and efficient nutrient management planning on the farm. Patrick has reduced his chemical fertiliser usage as a result.

Above: Patrick O’Neill and his son Paidí on their farm in Co. Longford.

He has also adopted Protected Urea fertiliser, lowering his nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) and ammonia emissions. Optimising soil fertility has allowed Patrick to successfully introduce clover to his paddocks. To date, 35% of the farm has had clover incorporated.

Clover captures freely-available nitrogen from the atmosphere and makes it available for grass growth, thus lowering the requirement for chemical nitrogen applications. Where Patrick has incorporated clover, he has been able to reduce his chemical nitrogen input by 50%.

Taking a scientific approach to organic fertiliser, Patrick uses Low Emission Slurry Spreading equipment and targets organic fertiliser application to the most appropriate parts of the farm, using his nutrient management plan to inform his decision-making. These actions reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia emissions while also reducing costs significantly and maintaining forage production.

Lakeland Dairies has continued its long-term commitment to reducing plastic packaging by rolling out new clear caps for all two-litre and three-litre milk cartons.

The traditional red or blue coloured carton tops cannot be easily recycled into food-grade packaging so by replacing coloured milk caps with clear caps makes it easier to recycle and helps reduce colour contamination with high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

This is the latest in a line of commitments made by Lakeland Dairies to reduce the environmental impact of retail milk packaging. In 2017, Lakeland Dairies reduced the weight of the two-litre bottles by 10%.

Above: Tommy O’Donaghue, Head of Consumer Foods with Lakeland Dairies and Eimear Hanley Marketing Manager with Lakeland Dairies announcing the use of clear bottle tops by Lakeland Dairies on all two-litre and three-litre cartons.

In 2020, Lakeland Dairies reduced the weight of the three-litre bottles by 4%. This was followed by the introduction of 20% recycled material into the bottles in 2021.

The bottles, caps and sleeves are now 100% recyclable and are widely recycled in Ireland and the UK.

Lakeland Dairies ​ has a longstanding commitment to the use of anaerobic digestion (AD). The technology ​is a core part of our operations and we will continue to leverage this in the times ahead.​

​At our Ballyrashane production site, AD produces 60% of the site’s electricity requirement. Capturing the latest technological advancements, we use dairy waste and energy crops to product biogas at the AD plant.

This biogas is then utilised to power two combined heat and power (CHP) units generating heat and electricity. The energy produced not only powers
the operations of the AD plant but also provides electricity and heat to the site. Surplus energy is then provided to the national electricity grid.

Above: The Lakeland Dairies Anaerobic Digestion plant in Ballyrashane which generates up to 60% of the site’s electricity demand.

Power generation from the Ballyrashane AD plant is equivalent to the average energy usage of 2,393 homes annually. Anaerobic digestion has an essential
role to play in responding to the climate emergency at local, national and global levels.

We will continue to evolve our use of this highly modern and beneficial technology to drive further sustainability gains.

Energy self-sufficiency at national and individual levels is a key policy target and Lakeland Dairies is playing a leadership role in this space.​

Lakeland Dairies is 100% farmer-owned and shareholders elect the peerage shareholders to representative positions within ​the co-op including the Board ​
of Directors.​ This unique and robust system ensures that our milk-supplying shareholders have a vested interest in the strategic direction of the Co-operative that they, as well as their parents and grandparents, have helped to create and develop.

Above: Lakeland Dairies Shareholders voting at the SGM which approved new rules

Lakeland Dairies is proactively introducing measures to promote more diverse shareholding and to encourage more female and young farmer participation.

In 2023, Lakeland Dairies shareholders overwhelmingly backed rule changes aimed at future proofing the Co-operative through the promotion of diverse membership​ and governance participation within the Society.​ Rule changes were also introduced to ensure that all Society meetings are held in a manner that encourages attendance and participation by our diverse members and that the language in the Rules reflect a modern society.

Meet our Sustainability Team Meet our Sustainability Team

Meet our Sustainability Team

If you have a question or a query about our sustainability strategy, contact our Sustainability Division.

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