Did you know that you can reduce your impact on the environment by replacing dairy milk with soy milk?
The water footprint of a product is the amount of freshwater required to produce it.
A 2011 study found that that the water footprint of 1 litre of dairy milk produced in the UK is 540 litres. In comparison, the water footprint of 1 litre of soy milk produced in Belgium is 297 litres. (N.B. The UK is largely self-sufficient in milk. Alpro, a leading soy milk brand in the UK has a factory in Belgium).
The carbon footprint of a product is the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during its life cycle – from agriculture, through processing and packaging, distribution, use and disposal.
British dairy milk from Tesco has a carbon footprint of between 1.2-1.5 kg CO2 emissions per litre (0.7-0.9 kg CO2 emissions per pint) depending on the type of milk (skimmed milk has a lower carbon footprint than whole milk). In comparison, Tesco own-brand soy milk has a carbon footprint of between 0.8-0.9kg CO2 emissions per litre (N.B. Tesco does not disclose which country its soy beans are sourced from).
Rest assured that both Tesco and Alpro soy milk do not contribute to deforestation to grow soy beans in the Amazon. Interestingly, Alpro mainly sources soy beans from France, and is committed to carbon neutrality by 2020.
If you can’t wait until 2020 and prefer a local plant milk alternative, try ‘Good Hemp’. This hemp milk is grown in Devon and is herbicide and pesticide-free.
Other carbon footprint considerations
- Storage: fresh milk requires refrigerated transportation and storage in supermarkets. On the other hand, long life soy milk doesn’t require refrigeration, which means that the energy needed to refrigerate the product is being saved.
- Packaging: Dairy milk tends to be packaged in HDPE plastic bottles which are commonly collected by kerbside recycling schemes. Soy milk tends to be packaged in Tetra Pak containers which aren’t always collected – find out if your council can collect Tetra Pak here.
Did you know?
- This study suggests that 14 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of milk protein on a conventional farm. In comparison just 0.75 calories of energy are required to produce 1 calorie of soymilk protein.
- The average cow emits 100kg of methane every year. Methane is a greenhouse gas with an effect 23 times greater than carbon dioxide, so this is equivalent to 2300kg CO2 emissions per year.
- Dairy milk has a lower carbon footprint than beef because you get more milk out of each cow over its lifetime than beef. Cheese has a higher carbon footprint than dairy milk due to the intensive production process of cheese-making – It takes 10 units of milk to make 1 unit of cheese.
- Cheapest fresh dairy milk (Tesco Semi-skimmed milk, 6 pints): 56p/litre
- Cheapest long life Tesco soy milk: 59p/litre
- Cheapest long life Good hemp milk from Tesco: £1.49/litre