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Fonterra is taking part in a new study which could provide an alternative gas supply for New Zealand.
The study, which also involved Beca, Firstgas Group and EECA, was examining how organic waste, such as food waste and cow manure, could be used to make a renewable gas.
The study found it to be a viable, untapped solution to provide an alternative to New Zealand's current gas supplies – potentially replacing around 20 per cent of the country's total gas usage by 2050.
This gas was created by a process called anaerobic digestion. Bacteria broke down organic matter to create a gas, which was then cleaned and could be used in the existing pipeline networks, appliances and equipment.
It would also save up to 19 times the emissions, so there was "no need to throw away the gas barbecue just yet," Fonterra global sustainability director Carolyn Mortland told The Country Sport Breakfast's Mark Kelly.
Fonterra already had biodigesters at its Tirau and Darfield sites as part of its wastewater treatment, "so we've got some expertise and experience in how they work," Mortland said.
"Also, we're a consumer of gas and we've got a target to reach of net zero emissions in our manufacturing site by 2050, so we're really keen to look at what new technologies are there and how that can help us and all of New Zealand."
Fonterra was already making headway in reducing emissions, and had recently committed to getting out of coal at its manufacturing sites by 2037.
The co-op would be transitioning the remaining nine of its 29 sites off coal over the next 16 years, Mortland said.
"We have made some great progress. This year we moved our Te Awamutu site to wood pellets and that reduced our coal use by 10 per cent and we're also co-firing our Brightwater site on wood biomass."
The study was another piece in the puzzle towards Fonterra's goal of net zero emissions by 2050, Mortland said.
"We've got to look ahead and think about how we transition out of gas. So it's studies like this and working with our partners that can help develop a renewable gas market that doesn't exist today, that we can use for the future."