The UK dairy industry and environment ministers have launched a plan that aims to see half of all milk packaging produced from recycled materials by 2020.

The Milk Roadmap, introduced by the industry and the Environment Department (Defra), has also pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 20-30% and boost the amount of farmland covered by environmental stewardship schemes to 65%.

Defra said the roadmap was designed to address the environmental consequences of producing liquid milk through the supply chain from farm to retailers.

“Everyone is aware of the need to reduce CO2 emissions and the UK dairy sector was really willing to engage and collaborate with us on this,” a spokesperson for Defra told just-food today (2 May).

According to Defra, milk and meat production accounts for 7% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions and around half of all milk produced remains as a liquid, with the rest made into butter, cheese, yoghurt and other products.

Among the targets outlined in the draft document are measures to improve water efficiency by up to 15% per litre, source 40% of energy from renewables and recycle or recover 70% of non-natural waste on farms, all by 2020.

“I think we do have a realistic target as the dairy sector has had a big input from the producers to the retailers. The relevant people have been involved so it really is a ‘living document’”, the spokesperson said.

Processors have also made a commitment to source 20% of non-transport energy from renewables or combined heat and power, and to reduce water use by 30%.

The Roadmap will be reviewed in September as part of an annual sustainability report produced by Dairy UK, which Defra said will monitor the progress to achieving the targets set.

“Technology is going to change by 2020 and I’m sure new evidence will come to light by then so it really is a working document,” said the spokesperson.

Defra said this Roadmap is one of a series of ten in which they will look at achieving the same within different sectors, not yet confirmed.