Skip to main content
Home » Sustainability » Origin Green: driving sustainable food production

Origin Green: driving sustainable food production


Martin Hofler

Sustainability Development Manager, Bord Bia

The motivation behind this national programme is to assist the Irish food industry in producing food in the most sustainable way possible. The ambition? For Ireland to stand as a global example of how to improve the sustainability performance of an entire food industry.

Working across all levels of the supply chain, the programme enables Ireland’s farmers, manufacturers, retail and food service operators to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that protect the environment and serve local communities more effectively. Crucially, Origin Green is about measuring and improving how we do this on an ongoing basis.

Multi-annual sustainability plans

At a manufacturing level, the focus of the programme is the development of a sustainability plan. The plan is measured with clear, measurable and time-bound targets designed to reduce environmental impact and achieve efficiencies in the daily running of businesses.

As part of this process, each participating company commits to developing a multi-annual sustainability plan for its business, which must be at least three years in duration. Companies are required to set seven targets in three key areas: raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes, and social sustainability.

Third-party verified sustainability reports

A company is designated as a verified member of Origin Green when a sustainability plan has been verified by independent auditors, Mabbett. Ongoing membership of the programme is subject to the submission of annual progress reports that are also independently verified.

At present, 319 member companies have been independently verified and have annually-monitored sustainability plans. A further 282 companies are developing sustainability plans.  

Tools and resources for Irish food and drink manufacturers

A fundamental element of Origin Green involves supporting Irish food and drink manufacturers as they work to set and achieve ambitious sustainability targets.

Bord Bia provide a variety of services and resources to companies as they initially work to achieve full verification, look to retain their verified member status and leverage their membership for business growth.

Resources include: workshops, online training, feedback reports, one-to-one mentoring, knowledge sharing and communications tools.

Furthermore, the ongoing assistance and involvement of a range of external organisations with specialised sustainability knowledge ensures the successful implementation and development of the programme.

Making a difference

Since its launch in 2012, this national food sustainability programme has enabled the Irish food industry to establish 2,440 sustainability targets, resulting in the following:

  • On average companies have achieved 17% water reduction per unit of output 2012-2017
  • On average companies have achieved 11% energy reduction per unit of output 2012-2017
  • 4,717 tonnes of surplus food donated to FoodCloud
  • Over €8m donated to charities and community organisations
  • Over 9,000 trees planted on manufacturing sites

Over 80% of members say that the programme has helped increase their understanding of sustainability in business, improve their sustainability practices, embed the culture of sustainability in their organisation and build their company’s reputation. Furthermore, more than half of members say it has helped them grow sales and build better relationships with their customers, according to a survey by RED C on behalf of Bord Bia in January 2019.

Despite Origin Green’s achievements to date, many opportunities for new sustainability measures remain. Therefore, it must continue to improve performance through collaboration with key stakeholders.

To find out more about the programme and its members visit

Next article