Sometimes when something is the right thing to do, it is an effort to do it. It feels like a struggle, and you resist despite yourself. And sometimes, doing the right thing feels like pushing against an open door.
Right now going green feels like pushing that open door. Sustainability has become trendy. It makes economic sense to make the effort, and the support systems are in place to make it easy. And customers appreciate it. Win/win for everyone.
The proof is in the numbers. So many companies are going green right now. We see examples both locally and nationally.
At CEC we have helped some of those companies, such as the Maryborough House Hotel in Douglas. Hotels produce a huge amount of waste – busy kitchens, big laundry bills. Despite this, they had an ambitious plan, to push for zero waste. They wanted to eliminate the use of landfill entirely. With our help this took them only four months.
What companies are going green?
Because it is trendy, many companies are greenwashing – shouting their claims from the rooftops, while really doing nothing. They emphasise something like recycling, which is not difficult, but hide the fact that their supply chain leaves a huge carbon footprint. But some companies are making a genuine effort.
According to Mark Pagell, Professor of Sustainable Supply Chain Management at UCD, the Food Academy at SuperValu is a shining example of a sustainability initiative. SuperValu joined forces with Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Office to work with small food businesses, helping them from start-up to seeing their products on shelves nationwide. 300 small producers are in the program, and the emphasis is strongly on the green and sustainable.
Professor Pagell said: “There are greenhouse gases associated with producing food anyway, but a lot of food is carbon-intensive to transport, either because it is perishable or because it has got a lot of water content. A lot of what we produce in Ireland is both. The Food Academy addresses these issues. It’s local, meaning less transportation, but it’s also better for people running the farms and the people working on the farms.” Citation: https://www.irishtimes.com
A lot of the carbon footprint comes from the supply chain – transport and packaging. Bottled water is an example. Though water is the healthy option, bottled water is not a healthy option for the planet.
But Icewater, a company based in Dublin, are changing that, by supplying the benefits of bottled water to companies nationwide, without the bottles and the transport. Last year they won the Water Sustainability Achievement Award at the Green Awards.
What companies are trying to be more environmentally friendly?
Many companies have had their efforts recognized by being nominated for awards. The awards are not just symbolic taps on the back. They mean something to consumers. Those companies range from big national organisations – Brown Thomas, Dairy Gold, Dawn Meats, UCC – to the tiny – Hickson’s Centra in Pilltown, Poppies Cafe in Enniskerry, Wholly Cow Burgers in Galway. Any company can make the effort.
Companies striving for sustainability
Many companies make sustainability one of the planks of their business model. One such is SunDrift, run by Cork businesswoman Fiona Parfrey. They use regenerated materials to make quirky, eco-friendly outdoor products, such as backpacks, for women. Sustainability is at the heart of their business. On the home page of their website, this is spelt out before you ever get near their online store (sundriftstore.com).
“We believe a cleaner world is a happier world. That’s why sustainability is at our core. To support a circular economy, we use certified regenerated materials to create high-quality outdoor products, that will stand the test of time.”
The company also donates to local charities. Even their profits are recycled.
Another Cork company emphasising sustainability is the start-up Nexalus, which developed products that increase the efficiency of cooling electronics at various scales, from gaming systems to data centres.
By efficiently cooling down these electronic systems, Nexalus helps businesses reduce their energy usage, CO2 output, and improve space efficiency. The company claims it can halve energy usage and CO2 output in many cases.
There are several other companies we could mention, but this is a blog, not a book. Clearly green and sustainable has become very trendy. Isn’t it time you joined the new revolution? Contact CEC to get zero waste certified!