Why is going carbon positive such a big deal? Because dairy farming has a big carbon footprint—and since we know we’re part of the problem, we’re stepping up to do our share.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contribute to global warming and climate change. Farming and livestock contribute up to 10% of all U.S. GHGs1. And we all know cows put out methane and produce manure—that’s just what happens on a farm.
Going carbon positive means we’ll be taking more carbon and GHGs out of the environment than we’re creating. That means we can give back to nature more than we take and help fight climate change.
To meet our goal, we’re partnering with Horizon farmers around the country to invest in training, tools and technology. We’re evolving our farming methods with a focus on soil health, carbon capture, cow care and manure management. We’re prioritizing the use of renewable energy sources. As part of our carbon positive strategy, we’ll reduce carbon wherever possible, then purchase U.S. carbon credits to offset what we can’t reduce. We’ll also support resource conservation and restoration.
The Horizon organic milk you and your family drink comes from cows that eat grass and feed grown in soil. What affects any part of that cycle, affects all of it. Following organic guidelines and going carbon positive are ways to do more for the planet by doing more for our cows, our farmer partners, and the land.
For instance, organic guidelines prohibit the use of toxic, persistent pesticides and herbicides anywhere on our farms. This prevents exposure not only for grazing cows, but also for farmers and their families, the soil and its critters, streams and ponds, and other wildlife like birds.
Leading the way
We’re excited to say that Horizon Organic is the first Organic dairy brand to commit to being carbon positive by 2025, from farm to fridge, across our whole supply chain.
We’ve been Organic pioneers since 1991, when we launched the first organic milk available coast to coast. That same pioneering spirit—and love for nature—is behind our carbon positive pledge today as we take action to fight climate change.
Investing in our farmer partners
Our journey towards becoming carbon positive starts with our farmer partners—over 600 of them. We’ve set up a Horizon farmer investment fund, allocating $15 million through 2030. The fund will help support our farmers with low and no-cost loans, so they can get additional training, tools and technology to improve energy efficiency on their farms, better manage cow manure, and plant more trees. Learn about other ways we support our farmer partners.
Packaging & Recycling
As part of our goal, we’re aiming for 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2025. The paperboard we already use for our half-gallon cartons is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Get more details at us.fsc.org. Our cartons and single-serves are widely recyclable, and our yogurt, cottage cheese and spreadable butter tubs can be recycled in many communities too. Just follow the How2Recycle® instructions on the pack for your local area and help give our packaging a second life. Find more details at how2recycle.info.
Helping the herd
Our certified organic cows eat organic feed and graze on organic pasture grasses for at least 120 days per year—and more when weather allows. But even with an organic diet, they still produce methane, a greenhouse gas. In order to become carbon positive, we’ve got to help our cows put out less methane and improve the way we manage their manure. So, we’re exploring how to optimize their diets as we follow organic animal welfare standards, with holistic care and plenty of TLC. Curious about other organic cow care principles? Get more info.
Of course, we need healthy soil to grow nutritious grasses for our cows2. But boosting soil health is crucial to our carbon positive goal because healthy soil holds more carbon—keeping it underground, instead of letting it go into the atmosphere. We’re using 28,000 pilot acres of organic land to study and implement regenerative soil practices. A healthy soil microbiome, full of organic matter and living microbes, also retains water and prevents erosion, and hosts insects and worms. Learn more about soil here.
Transportation and energy
To minimize transport distance to our plants, we’ll optimize pickup routes among our network of farmers. We’ve signed on to transition to low-carbon, sustainable fuel for our trucks, cutting the GHG emissions that come from transporting milk to retailers. And 100% of the electricity used to process our milk comes from renewable energy through the Bonneville Environmental Foundation.
Horizon Life Cycle Assessment
Before we can reduce our carbon footprint, we’ve got to know what it is. To find out, we commissioned a third-party life cycle assessment (LCA), which accounts for GHG emissions from the farm to the final drop of milk. Based on 2018 data, we learned that each half-gallon carton of our whole milk has a carbon footprint of approximately 5.58 kg CO2e.