Fair Cape Dairies takes major step towards going off-grid

Yesterday, Thursday 25 March 2021, Fair Cape Dairies took another major step towards becoming the leader in sustainable agriculture in South Africa.

In the spirit of Fair Cape’s motto of ‘Do the Right Thing’, its newly installed 560-kilowatt solar power plant now allows Fair Cape to not only produce all fresh milk off grid during daylight hours, but also to process and store it in its cold rooms before going to market.

This unique facility will generate approximately 1 016 000 Kilowatt hours of energy and will save approximately 400 000 Kilograms of CO₂ per annum.

Fair Cape switched over to powering its milking parlour entirely with solar power during daylight hours in October 2018, and this solar plant now represents further significant progress in Fair Cape’s efforts to stay true to environmentally-friendly principles in its business practices. 

Louis Loubser, Fair Cape Dairies’ chief marketing officer, said that the philosophy of Do the Right Thing is the company’s moral and ethical compass. ‘Our brand is based on three pillars: animal welfare, social welfare and environmental welfare and this is simply the latest in a long line of steps we’ve taken to minimise our impact on the environment.’

In addition to using solar energy at the milking parlour, which has reduced the need for coal-derived energy by around 150 000 kwH per annum, Fair Cape changed its Eco-Fresh milk bottle in 2019 from white PET to clear PET – which is also made with 30% recycled material – to make it more recyclable and encourage recycling at a consumer level. An innovation which won them the PETCO Recycling Partnership Gamechanger of the Year Award that year.

In addition, developing their waste sorting and handling infrastructure has resulted in diverting 1.5 million kilograms of solid waste from landfill during 2020, and the recycling of wash water at the milking parlour for non-potable use and irrigation at the farm saves nine million litres of water per month.

Fair Cape also recycles the cows’ dung, spraying it back onto their lands as fertiliser. This recovery of ‘waste’ not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions and replenishes the earth with nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and other micro-nutrients, but has also reduced the use of chemical fertilisers by approximately 20%.

‘As a company, we are totally committed to environmental stewardship and this initiative is the next step in our environmental journey,’ said Loubser. ‘We have long hoped to move our operations off-grid to allow us to produce and process milk in a far more environmentally friendly manner, and today’s announcement goes a long way to fulfilling this ambition.’

Keynote speaker at the launch event, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, said that the values, vision and leadership shown by Fair Cape Dairies are matched only by their passion to do the right thing. ‘But this is not just the right thing to do: it’s the smart thing to do. In fact, it’s the only thing to do.’

Cape Dairies CEO Melt Loubser flips the ceremonial switch with Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, at the launch of Fair Cape Dairies’ new 560-kilowatt solar farm on 25 March 2021.