Although the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of fluid milk by 25 percent by 2020 was announced this past February, the Worldwide Food Expo (WWFE) this week is the first public launch of the commitment.

The entire Dairy 2020 space at WWFE is a symbol of sustainability. During the design, the InnovationCenter for U.S. Dairy strived to use minimal resources with the intent to have as little impact as possible on the environment. All materials in the booth were made from clean, odorless, manure-based fiberboard and papers. All technology in the booth is powered by electricity derived from manure through the purchase of renewable energy credits, donated to the Innovation Center by Fair Oaks Dairy Farm in Fair Oaks, Ind. Where an impact on the environment was unavoidable, we arranged for offsets through a carbon offset program, donated by Greenhouse Gas Services, a GE AES venture.

“The goal of the Dairy 2020 booth is to engage WWFE attendees in conversations about sustainability by promoting five featured projects at the booth. The projects aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while increasing business value. We also are encouraging volunteers to join the movement toward a more sustainable future,” says Erin Fitzgerald, director of social and environmental innovation for Dairy Management Inc., which staffs and manages the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the U.S. Dairy Sustainability Commitment.

Made with manure

The Dairy 2020 booth and booth handouts are made from manure-based fiberboard and papers manufactured by Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, Wis., using a technology currently not available commercially. With no odor, no hygienic issues, and no residue, the bovine material is a viable alternative to paper and lightweight temporary construction and is comparable to particle board or thick cardboard.

The manure-based fibers are a byproduct of anaerobic digestion. Farmers use anaerobic digesters to extract the methane from manure, producing biogas for use in energy production. Two byproducts of this process are effluent — a liquid used for fertilizer — and digester solids, the main ingredient of the manure fiberboard.

Powered by cows

For each megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity used in connection with the Dairy 2020 and Community Space booths, a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) has been donated by Fair Oaks Dairy Farm. These RECs were generated from energy created from the burning of biogas, which was produced from cow manure by a methane digester.

RECs represent proof that 1 MWh of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource. RECs are the “currency” of renewable electricity and can be bought and sold, allowing owners to claim that renewable energy was produced to meet their electricity needs. For the Dairy 2020 and Community Space booths, a total of

15 MWh of electricity will be needed for the manufacture of the materials, the promotion of the booths through printed materials and a Web site, and the operation of the booths during the Worldwide Food Expo. Fair Oaks Dairy Farm has generously donated 15 RECs to cover this entire energy requirement. Each REC was created by the burning of biogas from cow manure to create energy.

Offsets

During Worldwide Food Expo, the Dairy 2020 and Community Space booths will emit an estimated 20 tons of greenhouse gas will be emitted, including the transportation of people and materials, the promotional items and printing, the hosts’ t-shirts, and all of the material for the booth.

To compensate for these greenhouse gas emissions, 20 Carbon Offset Credits (COCs) have been generously donated by Greenhouse Gas Services, a GE AES venture. Each COC represents 1 ton of carbon dioxide-equivalent (CO2e) reduction in greenhouse gas from a clean form of energy production.

Other booth materials

  • The large reusable graphic in the booth is printed on corn-based, biodegradable material. The inks are UV-cured, non-solvent, with no off-gassing.
  • The paper used for the handouts is FSC certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and is 70 percent recycled/30 percent post consumer waste.
  • The t-shirts are made by Dry Goods with American cotton to support local farming communities and reduce the financial and environmental costs associated with overseas shipping. The cotton is naturally dyed and knitted in Toronto to ensure fair labor practices are observed. The shirts are printed with 100 percent biodegradable chemicals made from soybeans. Conventional screen-printing is toxic; printing one color on a dozen shirts puts about an ounce of harmful chemicals into the environment. 

Source: Dairy Management, Inc.