Danone invests $26.4m in infant milk facility in New Zealand

Investment will go toward a South Island spray drying plant for achieving carbon neutrality by 2021

Danone, today announced a NZ$40 million (US$26.4m) investment in its Nutricia spray drying plant towards achieving carbon neutrality by 2021. The plant on the receiving end of this funding processes raw milk for production of Infant Milk Formula (IMF) brands

This significant milestone will be driven primarily by the installation of a NZ$30 million (US$19.8m) state-of-the-art biomass boiler that will reduce the plant’s CO2 emissions by 20,000 tonnes per year.

Danone’s investment in the plant also includes the installation of a new water treatment plant to more efficiently treat water waste, while ensuring compliance with Danone’s stringent global clean water standards.

Danone’s Nutricia spray drying plant is located at Balclutha, in the Otago region of the South Island. The plant processes raw milk sourced from eighteen local farms into powder that is used as the base for production of IMF brands, including Aptamil and Karicare.

Boilers play a central role in spray drying – the process of converting milk into a dry powder through the application of heat – with around 85% of the entire plant’s energy consumption coming from steam production. Unlike gas or the more common coal-powered boilers, Danone’s biomass boiler will be powered by sustainable wood fuels, which will be sourced locally, therefore delivering a positive economic impact.

Cyril Marniquet, Danone’s New Zealand Operations Director, said: “This significant investment, in what we expect to be New Zealand’s first carbon-neutral plant of its kind, underscores Danone’s global ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision and the belief that the health of people and planet are interconnected. We share the New Zealand Government’s ambitions in delivering a low-emissions, climate-resilient future. At Danone, we’ve set ourselves an objective of becoming a carbon-neutral company across our entire scope – from farm to family – by 2050.”

To bring its ‘One Planet. One Health’ vision to life, Danone has defined its 2030 Goals, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including reserving and renewing the planet’s resources.

As part of its global journey towards carbon neutrality by 2050, Danone has also set intermediate targets – officially approved by the SBTi (Science-Based Targets initiative) – in line with the global measures necessary to meet the Paris Agreement objective of keeping global warming below 2° C. These targets include a 50% reduction in carbon emissions intensity across the company’s full scope by 2030. From 2016 to 2018, Danone already successfully reduced greenhouse gas emissions intensity by 15.6% worldwide.

Biomass Boiler

Veolia, a global leader in resource management, will be responsible for designing and managing the construction of the biomass boiler, guaranteeing the future operation and performance of steam production.

Alexandre Lagny, General Manager New Zealand for Veolia said the company was excited to deliver the project as part of its global strategic partnership with Danone.

“Veolia has supported Danone with the development of the biomass project, aligning available biomass resources with optimal conversion technologies, while leveraging the company’s operational expertise to achieve the best possible environmental footprint for the site,” Lagny added.

Facility history

Danone acquired the Balclutha spray drying plant and its Airport Oaks (Auckland) blending, packing and canning facilities in 2014. Since then, the company has invested NZ$150 million (US$99.1m) to double production capacity of finished infant formula products in New Zealand and transform its facilities in the country, enabling manufacture to Danone’s exacting global food safety and quality standards with a continued focus on sustainability.

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