Ecological assessment of milk: how sustainable are cow's milk, oat milk and oat milk powder in comparison?

Vegan and climate friendly - milk alternatives, especially oat drinks, are more popular than ever. How much better oat milk actually is in terms of environmental performance compared to conventional cow's milk and how you can save even more waste and CO2 emissions with oat milk powder, is what we would like to explain here as Blue Farm is the most sustainable oat milk.

Sustainable milk alternatives are up and coming

Cow's milk is old news, as many people have realized how harmful the production of milk is for the environment. Factors such as factory farming, industrial agriculture and feed production cause high CO2 emissions, land use and water consumption. Those who are environmentally conscious in their day-to-day lives - especially in their eating habits - are already turning to plant drinks as a sustainable alternative. In addition, the trend towards a vegan dietary choice is additionally driving the consumption of plant-based alternatives.

Why oat milk is the most sustainable alternative

The number one milk alternative in terms of environmental assessment are milk substitutes made from oats, colloquially also called oat milk or officially oat drink.

The environmental impact of plant drinks primarily depends on the way the plants are grown and processed. Here, oats offer striking advantages, especially due to their regionality and resistance: When transporting domestic oats, shorter distances are covered and thus CO2 emissions are minimized. Oats are also relatively light in weight, therefore their transportation also reduces CO2 emissions. Furthermore, oats are resistant to weeds, which means that they need less spraying, so hardly any chemicals are needed in conventional cultivation. Local cultivation also ensures that no additional rainforest needs to be cleared, which is partly the case with imported soy for soy drinks. Oats also require less water and land in their growth.

That's why we at Blue Farm have chosen oats as the basis for our milk alternative and made it our mission to reduce the eco-balance of oat drink to a minimum.

Life cycle assessment in detail: cow's milk vs. oat milk vs. oat milk powder

To compare the environmental footprint of cow's milk, oat milk and oat milk powder, we looked at the respective value chains in detail, taking into account the following factors: CO2 emissions, waste and land use. It should be noted that these are estimates and may vary depending on the value chain of the respective producer.

For the sake of simplicity, and in order to be able to compare these products with each other, we use so-called CO2 equivalents, where the emission of all greenhouse gases in the manufacturing cycle of a product are converted into CO2 comparison values.

Overall, oat milk causes 76% less CO2 emissions compared to traditional cow's milk, which is mainly due to the more climate-friendly cultivation. The high CO2 emissions of cow's milk are mainly caused by the methane emitted by the cows. This accounts for 85% of the emissions.

Blue Farm's oat milk powder causes the least emissions with approx. 0.26 kg CO2 emissions per liter. This is mainly due to the fact that CO2 emissions can be saved during transportation and packaging. Oat milk consists of 90% water and is usually delivered to the supermarket packed in drinking cartons. Blue Farm's Oat Base is significantly lighter, which reduces transport emissions. In addition, it is delivered directly to the consumer's home, thus completely eliminating unnecessary transport distances and other emissions. Since our oat milk powder does not use water, the volume and therefore the packaging is smaller, which means fewer emissions are produced during the production of the packaging.

Co2 emissions
CO2 emissions in comparison

The smaller packaging also reduces waste in the provision and use or disposal of the product. While one liter of milk or oat drink in a milk carton produces approx. 24g of cardboard and 8g of plastic waste, one liter of Blue Farm Oat Base produces only 3.25g of (mono)plastic, which can be 100% recycled. In addition, the outer packaging, i.e. the packaging in which the packaged goods are transported, also play a role here: For 1 liter, 10.25g of milk carton is needed, for our oat milk powder only 3.1g.

Packaging waste
Packaging waste in comparison

Oat milk powder as a real eco alternative

As the data above show, oat milk is already significantly better than traditional cow's milk in terms of its environmental impact. To reduce the transport of heavy oat milk and save on packaging, Blue Farm offers an oat drink powder that reduces the oat drink to its fundamental ingredients which only need to be mixed with water at home. This saves further CO2 emissions during transport and packaging production and disposal. In addition, you can easily mix your oat drink yourself - as much as you like, customized to your taste! This is not only practical in your everyday life, but also prevents food waste. Another advantage of mixing it yourself: Microbiology only really starts working when you add water to the base. Therefore your drink is even fresher than it would be had it been filled in a milk carton weeks ago.

We decide on our personal ecological footprint every day by the food we choose. Blue Farm has set itself the goal of giving every consumer the opportunity to do something good for the environment at breakfast or during your coffee break. Let us contribute together to reach the 1.5° goal!


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