China

​​​​​​​​​China’s largest dairy raises the bar in sustainability

China’s largest dairy company embraced innovative best practices to reduce energy and water consumption – and comply with tough new environmental laws.

Keen to stay ahead of the curve, Mengniu turned to Tetra Pak for processing technology to reduce its environmental footprint.

The collaboration is set to enable Mengniu to cut energy consumption by 30-40% and reduce projected estimated water use by up to 50% over five years – and also to develop a novel type of eco-furniture.

Mengniu has more than 50 plants around China and wanted to make sure they were fully complying with new government eco-legislation.

Brand reputation enhanced

“Mengniu is China’s largest dairy company and we need to bear our fair share of environmental responsibility,” says Wen Yongping, Mengniu

Assistant President. “Being green is also a measure of our brand reputation and how responsible we are as a major enterprise.”

The company sought help in upgrading its processing lines because it wanted to adopt best environmental practices and shift to a more sustainable production model.

Far-reaching overhaul

The overhaul was far-reaching, extending from production organization and process design to energy recovery and recycling systems.

“In the past, our process design for chilled products, ice cream and ambient products were designed separately. But no​w we want to integrate and use a single pretreatment process for them,” Wen says.

Asian woman drinking milk, Mengniu dairy

He expects Tetra Pak’s OneStep technology – which streamlines raw milk processing – to cut water use by 30-50% over three to five years and to reduce Mengniu’s energy consumption by 30-40%. This is partly thanks to the organic fermentation process introduced for dung from Mengniu’s cattle herds.

Biogas from cow dung

All cow dung produced now goes through organic fermentation to produce biogas, which in turn is used to generate the electricity to run Mengniu’s farms.

Many of the company’s packages are made of FSC-certified carton from Tetra Pak and the two companies have worked closely to install reverse vending machines that collect and recycle used milk cartons from consumers.

Wen Yongping says Mengniu is planning to convert the recycled cartons into a substrate for making tables and chairs for the company’s factories.

The collaboration is a win-win, he says. “Tetra Pak has global technologies as well as the ability to integrate resources globally. We hope they can continue to support Mengniu in the future and allow us to use their best practices in energy management and state of the art technologies.”​​