My Job: Green agenda at core of business thinking

My Job: Green agenda at core of business thinking
Kathleen O’Regan: Enterprise Ireland’s GreenPlus helps companies to develop their internal capability up to international best practice within six to twelve months.

    Name: Kathleen O’Regan.
    Occupation: Lean and environmental adviser. Enterprise Ireland.
    Background: Enterprise Ireland’s Green and Lean business programmes encourage the adoption of environmentally conscious business principles to increase company competitiveness and ensure a strong competitive position on global markets.

ENTERPRISE Ireland’s Green Programme is designed to assist companies to incorporate sustainable practices into the day-to-day running of their business.

Better environmental performance leads to improved resource efficiency, direct cost savings, and can also increase access to customers who are increasingly demanding more environmentally friendly products and services. Focused on developing capability within EI companies to improve environmental performance, the Green offer has been in place since 2012, and was developed to complement the Lean Offer, established in 2009.

“With current market uncertainties and Brexit, companies need to see how they can become more competitive, to see how they can do things better, more efficiently as well as more sustainably,” explains Kathleen O’Regan, who is a member of the Operational Excellence Department team delivering the Green Programme.

Green and lean supports are also available from IDA, Údarás na Gaeltachta, and Local Enterprise Offices.

“More and more businesses are assessing their supply chain’s green credentials and require companies to have good environmental practices. Rising costs of raw materials, energy, carbon taxes, water, waste water treatment etc means that businesses require more proactive resource management — it makes business sense for companies to improve their environmental performance.”

Kathleen’s role includes engaging with clients on their green journey, processing GreenStart and GreenPlus applications, reports and grant claims, Green Service Providers Directory applications, and any related queries.

She works with companies on their lean transformation projects, incorporating environmental based training where appropriate; processing LeanTransform applications, and carrying out environmental assessments of Enterprise Ireland client companies in receipt of grants.

“As is widely accepted, Ireland is considerably short of its requirements to meet Climate Change 2020 targets, and may not even meet the 2030 targets. Every business will need to be conscious of what they’re doing in tackling climate change to reduce carbon emissions and protect natural resources. Companies from a wide range of sectors including food, engineering, construction, life sciences, electronics, timber, print, and packaging have been supported in the Green programme.”

Kathleen cites the example of Celtic Chocolates, a manufacturer based in Meath and which used GreenStart to prepare the Bord Bia Origin Green Sustainability plan, carrying out a resource efficiency savings projects generating water, waste, and energy savings. Similarly, ABP Ireland, one of Europe’s largest beef exporters, used GreenPlus to implement the European Water Stewardship Multisite Standard scheme across a number of its sites in Ireland. The implementation of the EWS standard helped the company to deliver continuous improvement in water management across the group.

John Sisk & Son, the international construction company, used GreenPlus to implement an Energy Management System and reported that it had “changed how we do business and is helping us to reduce cost, price future work more accurately and deliver measureable reductions in our environmental impacts”.

There are three levels of Green support— Steps to Green Competitiveness Guidebook (non-financial aid), GreenStart grant and GreenPlus grant.

“The guidebook is a simplified guide to helping companies begin their environmental journey through the use of a basic environmental management tool and is free to download from the Enterprise Ireland website,” she explains.

“The GreenStart grant is a seven day assignment, delivered by an external environmental service provider over a period of approximately eight to twelve weeks. Its aim is to enable client companies develop a simplified environmental management system to improve environmental performance through greater resource efficiency.”

The GreenPlus offer aids companies to develop their internal capability up to international best practice and it is delivered by an external environmental service provider, generally for a period of approximately 6-12 months.

“The grant supports the external environmental service provider and internal environmental champions. Eligible GreenPlus projects include embedding environmental management practices in the company through dedicated training programmes to a level compatible with international best practice, such as ISO 14001 and ISO 50001. It also incorporates training in Life Cycle Thinking, including Life Cycle Assessment projects such as European Water Stewardship Standard, Eco-labels, Environmental Product Declarations.”

Environmental training may also be supported under Enterprise Ireland’s Lean programmes; LeanStart, LeanPlus, LeanTranform, and Operational Excellence. Lean focuses closely on

effectiveness and efficiency across all areas of a business from raw material into product out, including environmental improvement initiatives.

With more than 70 Green-supported projects undertaken to date, 41% have been food sector companies, 27% engineering, 22% construction, 8% Life Sciences, with the remainder across electronics, timber, print, and packaging sectors.

“From 2012 to 2016, the majority of Green projects undertaken focused on environmental management, and from 2017 to 2018 the majority of projects focused on energy management. Going forward it is envisaged that the Green programme will be used to support companies in environmental and energy management and also in the area of Life Cycle Assessment. More companies are now taking responsibility for the impact of their processes and products across their entire life cycle rather than only dealing with issues inside their factory gates.”

For a company to embed environmental management practices to a level compatible with an International Standard such as ISO14001 or ISO50001, it has to make business sense, as there is a cost involved with certification and for maintaining the standard.

“The supply chain normally dictates if there is a business case. However, companies will still benefit from having a more simplified environmental management system in place. And the GreenStart was developed with these companies in mind, as it can help these companies through greater resource efficiency and enhanced environmental credentials even without having the International Standard in place.”

For more information see — www.enterprise-ireland.com/en/Productivity/ and www.leanbusinessireland.ie/

More on this topic

These top tips from UCC's boffins will ensure you have a happy and sustainable ChristmasThese top tips from UCC's boffins will ensure you have a happy and sustainable Christmas

Cork couple behind breakthrough for energy solutions in energy renovation projectsCork couple behind breakthrough for energy solutions in energy renovation projects

Boohoo launches new fashion range made from recycled plasticBoohoo launches new fashion range made from recycled plastic

The Pádraig Hoare interview: 'LED-ing the way for 'greener' business'The Pádraig Hoare interview: 'LED-ing the way for 'greener' business'