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Resource efficiency is now mission critical for Irish businesses


James Hogan

Programme Manager, Clean Technology Centre, Cork Institute of Technology

The green agenda is one of the most important issues for businesses worldwide. The sustainability of businesses is threatened by the limited resources of the planet and its rapidly changing climatic conditions – both of which bring economic uncertainty.

Progressive businesses have realised that, in order to remain viable, they need to source sustainable raw materials and improve resource efficiency in the production of their goods and services. Only then can they continue to meet the demand of future markets that will demand such actions.

In Ireland, services have been put in place to ensure such actions. The National Waste Prevention Programme, established in 2004, has provided business with many supports including the Green Business Programme (2008-2018).

The programme (managed by The Clean Technology Centre, CIT) provided resource efficiency assessments to over 400 SMEs. They identified circa €14 million in cost savings through improved energy efficiency, reduced water consumption and waste prevention. That was an average saving of €35,000 per year for each business visited.

Developing businesses to sustain the environment

Companies involved in the Green Business Programme not only reduced their costs, but also reduced their environmental footprint and improved the sustainability of the business. John Durkan, Sustainability Manger of a leading food organisation says: “We believe it is our duty to do everything we can to ensure that our growth is not at the expense of our natural environment.

Government calls for businesses to help tackle climate change

The Irish government has also realised the value of building resource efficiency into everyday operations. This year, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment requested that all government departments adopt a Resource Efficiency Action Plan. The plans will include activities to tackle climate change, reduce emissions, cut down single-use plastics and buy from green suppliers.

The purchasing power of Ireland’s government sector (12% of GDP) has enormous potential to reduce emissions and protect our environment while saving money over the full lifecycle of goods and services.

All Irish enterprises, both private and public sectors, must pull together to ensure we improve our resource efficiency and sustainability. We all need to do more with less. We have proven it can be done, if the will is there to do it.

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