Fonterra – 2021 Awards finalist


Fonterra has developed an innovative process for recycling water removed from milk during the evaporation process at its Maungatūroto site. The water passes through a wetland which acts as a natural bioreactor before it is treated further on site.

The initiative is simple in principle as it maximises the use of the existing wetland and water treatment plant while maintaining the natural environment and ecosystems.

Fonterra now reclaims and reuses 500,000 litres of water per day. That’s approximately 20% of its water use when the site is at full production.  This has reduced stress on local water resources and lowered discharge into the Wairau River by 50%.

The system is capable of recovering up to 700,000 litres of water per day which would enable the site to meet its sustainability goal of a 30% reduction in water intake.

Fonterra has launched ‘The Co-operative Difference Payment’. This is the first time in Fonterra’s history that farmers will be paid more for sustainably produced milk. From June 2021, up to 10 cents of each farm’s milk payment will be determined by the farm’s sustainability credentials and milk quality. The sustainability credentials focus on specific criteria : Environment, Co-op and Prosperity, Animals, People & Community.

Fonterra began communicating the aims and mechanics of the payment to farmers in February 2021.  It adopted a multi-channel approach including: workshops, farmer and rural professional meetings, a new campaign web platform, seven videos, fact sheets, the first ever sustainability issue of Farm Source Magazine (delivered to 10,000 addresses), tanker deliveries of brochures, media stories and farmer emails.