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In order to reduce our carbon footprint, as of the start of February Bywaters has replaced all dairy products provided in our communal kitchen areas with plant-based alternatives.

Eliminating our Dairy Consumption

As of the 3rd February, Bywaters has completely stopped stocking our communal kitchen areas with dairy products – instead providing plant-based alternatives for free to all our staff. This switch will not only help us reduce our environmental impact and lower the carbon emissions associated with our operations, but also help spread awareness of more sustainable diets.

Taking inspiration from Veganuary (which our Head of Sustainability, Ed Van Reenen, recently wrote about for our blog), we decided to figure out what steps we could take as a company to make the refreshments we provide for staff and visitors at our facility more sustainable.

Examining the amount of milk and butter we were buying to stock the fridges in our kitchen areas, we realised we were getting through 860 litres of milk and 40 tubs of butter each month. With the production of dairy milk and butter having large environmental consequences (having just one glass of milk a day across the year generates emissions equivalent to driving a petrol car 585 miles), we made the decision instead to stock our kitchen with oat and soy milk, along with dairy-free butter.

The Environmental Reasons to Avoid Dairy

Dr Adrian Camilleri of the University of Technology Sydney has said that “the greenhouse gas emissions from milk are about 30 times higher than what people estimate,” and when researching the issue we found this also extended into the land and water that is required to produce dairy milk and butter.

When figuring out how to reduce the environmental impact of the foods we were buying, the BBC’s climate change food calculator helped us not only discover the amount of emissions associated with dairy products, but also to highlight the most sustainable alternatives. We looked at the following areas when it came to deciding on transitioning to oat and soy milk:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions:

    If you have a glass of regular milk every day, over the year this generates 229kg of greenhouse gas emissions. For soy milk this figure is 71kg (69% less), and for oat milk it is 65kg (72% less).

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  • Land Use:

    Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires 650 square metres (7,000 square feet) of land – the equivalent of two tennis courts! To produce the same amount of oat milk requires less than a tenth of this.

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  • Water Use:

    To produce a glass of dairy milk every day requires 45,733 litres of water across the year, whereas for oat milk the figure is 3,512 (92% less), and for soy it is even less.

Once we discovered the environmental savings we could make, Bywaters decided to stop buying dairy products entirely, and to engage all our staff around the issue of sustainable dietary choices in order to have as wide an impact as possible – changing people’s attitudes to what they consume and bringing everyone into the conversation about how we preserve our planet for future generations.

Keeping Bywaters Sustainable

At Bywaters we are always examining our own operations and launching initiatives to reduce our environmental impact – such as the 4,000 solar panels we have installed on the roof of our facility and holding regular beach cleans with our staff and clients. Sustainability is the core of our business, and we’re delighted to have found another way to keep reducing our carbon emissions.

In addition to bringing in these plant-based products, we have provided specific bins to collect the empty tetrapack cartons. This means that we can ensure these are correctly streamed for recycling (as tetrapack, like coffee cups, needs a specialised recycling process due to being composed of paper with a thin plastic lining).

As London’s leading recycling and waste management provider, the sustainability of our own waste practices is a primary concern for Bywaters when making any change to our services or company policies. Through this change we hope to demonstrate to our clients and others how even relatively small actions can lead to big contributions in fighting climate change.

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