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New Zealand dairy plant shuns coal in favour of wood biomass boiler

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A New Zealand dairy plant has announced it is moving away from coal in favour of a wood biomass boiler.

Fonterra, the owner of the Studholme milk processing plant in Canterbury on New Zealand’s South Island, had received permission from Environment Canterbury and the Waimate District Council to build a 30-tonne-per-hour coal-fired boiler at the plant. However, it has since committed to a more sustainable alternative.

Robert Spurway, COO for global operations at Fonterra, said: “One of the emerging themes in our strategy review is that sustainability will be at the heart of everything we do. As part of this, we want to step up our efforts to help New Zealand transition to a zero-carbon economy.

“Our farm owners are already some of the most efficient producers of milk in the world. We need to match them in making sure our manufacturing operations and wider supply chain are as efficient as possible.”

Fonterra has achieved its coal target 11 years early, after previously setting a target of not installing any new coal boilers from 2030. Its other targets include reducing water use by 20% across manufacturing sites by 2020, using 100% recyclable, reusable and compostable packaging by 2025 and reducing emissions by 30% across all its manufacturing operations by 2030.

The company currently has 32 manufacturing sites across New Zealand, of which around 40% of its energy is from coal. The remaining power is generated from natural gas, electricity and wood.