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M&S launches carbon busting cow feed

Marks & Spencer is claiming an industry first with the introduction of a new feed supplement for pasture-grazed dairy cows which promises to cut the carbon footprint of the retailer’s fresh milk.

Working with 40 dairy farmers in its milk pool, M&S is investing £1m in a change to the cows’ diet to reduce the amount of methane produced in their stomach and released into the atmosphere.

It said the initiative is projected to remove 11,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere annually, cutting M&S’ RSPCA-assured core fresh milk carbon footprint by 8.4%.

Livestock production is a major source of methane – a potent greenhouse gas. In the absence of policies aimed at reducing overall meat consumption, reducing methane emissions by changing a ruminant’s diet has been a key focus for governments and businesses looking to cut emissions from agriculture. The UK government has previously explored the potential for animal feed additives like seaweed and probiotics to reduce methane emissions from ruminant livestock.

The M&S feed additive is made from corn fermentation derivatives and mineral salts, which prevents the digestive enzymes from forming methane and is naturally broken down in the cow’s stomachs. 

Alongside the feed innovation, M&S has also announced the launch of a £1m Plan A Accelerator Fund through which it plans to work with long-standing and new suppliers to fund innovation projects spanning energy, water, recycling and technology that will help it achieve its net-zero by 2040 goal.

One of the initiatives will see M&S use Polytag technology on food products to better understand how much, when and where its branded single-use plastic is recycled in UK recycling centres.

“By turning our obsession with innovation towards climate change and tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of our suppliers we can turbo charge our drive to be a net-zero business across all our operations and entire supply chain by 2040,” said M&S CEO Stuart Machin.