6.5 Key industry drivers - Environment
The chicken meat industry has a long term focus on measuring and reducing its environmental footprint and use of natural resources.
This encompasses areas such as water management, waste minimisation, reuse and recycling, and reduction of carbon output. The industry’s research priorities include matters such as climate change and resource use efficiency.
International research has already shown that poultry meat is the most environmentally efficient meat – for example, a major carbon footprint study in the UK (Williams et al., 2006), comparing environmental burdens and resource use in production of beef, sheep meat, poultry meat, eggs and milk, showed poultry production to have the least environmental impact, followed by pork, and at some considerable distance, sheep meat and beef. This is due in large part to the efficiency of chickens in converting feed into meat, which reduces the amount of feed and therefore the resources of land and water, required to produce each kilogram of meat.
While it is generally accepted that these findings hold true for meat produced in Australia as well, within Australia industry research is being undertaken to identify the industry’s environmental footprint as a base for continuing improvements and enhanced sustainability. It is also anticipated that information from such research will help consumers to make choices about their purchases based on a more effective understanding of environmental impact.
The location of the industry, often being close to major cities or other urban or peri-urban communities, brings with it the potential for conflict with neighbours and nearby communities through impacts on visual amenity, and dust, odour and noise emissions. The industry is very aware of the need to address these issues and is actively seeking, through research and community based approaches, new ways of minimising the impacts on local communities.