Producing high-quality dairy products from raw ingredients and packaging from raw materials inherently creates some waste. It may come in the form of food by-products, plastics, paper, cardboard – or anything that leaves our plants that is not a part of our finished product.

We learned in 2008 that we did not have enough source data to calculate the amount of our total solid waste, particularly waste sent to recycling and converted to animal feed. To correct this, we retained a third-party expert in 2009 to collect data and manage our solid waste disposal and recycling programs. Based on their work, we now estimate that the total amount sent to landfill or an incinerator in 2009 was approximately 70,000 tons. This is our baseline year for measured improvements.


2020 Solid Waste Reduction Goal

We set our first solid waste reduction goal in 2009, aiming to reduce solid waste 30 percent by 2013. By the end of 2011, we had already reduced solid waste 21 percent. As part of our 2012 environmental sustainability goal revision, we expanded our solid waste goal to reduce solid waste 50 percent by 2020.

Solid Waste to Landfill / Incinerator201020112012201320142015
(vs. baseline)


2020 Recycling Goal

When Dean Foods expanded its environmental sustainability goals in 2012, we created our first recycling goal, aiming to increase the amount of material we recycle 80 percent by 2020. This reduction is on an absolute basis from a 2009 baseline. However, since setting the goal, a verification audit of our recycled materials found that we have recycled significantly more waste materials than previously measured since setting our baseline. By the end of 2011, we had already increased the amount of material we recycled by more than 90 percent. As a result, we are evolving our approach to measure recycling as a component of our landfill diversion, rather than simply on an absolute basis. By 2020, we will reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills by increasing the amount we recycle from 26 to 50 percent.

2015 Solid Waste Pie Chart  Donut _Chart _2013


2020 Zero-Waste Goal

When Dean Foods expanded its environmental sustainability goals in 2012, we added a goal to create our first zero-waste goal for plants by the end of 2013. After a detailed review of the zero-waste standards, we are committed to achieving zero-waste to landfill certification* at 10 percent of our plants by 2020.  

*We will adhere to UL Environment's Virtual Zero Waste certification which is defined as 98 percent or greater landfill diversion.


With the completed spin-off of our WhiteWave business and the sale of our Morningstar business in 2013, all sustainability metrics, going back to 2007, have been recalculated to reflect the current structure of Dean Foods.

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