Origin Green is Ireland’s national food sustainability programme. It is a voluntary programme led by Bord Bia that brings together farmers, food producers, retailers and food service operators with the common goal of sustainable food production. This month, we speak to Enda Buckley, Director of Sustainability at Carbery Group.
Pictured: Enda Buckley (right) receiving the Sustainable Water Achievement Award from Frank Mutel at the Green Awards 2019
What is the background of your business?
Carbery Group is an international food company established in 1965 and headquartered in West Cork. It is owned by four West Cork dairy co-operatives and employs more than 750 people across eight facilities worldwide. From West Cork, Carbery supplies cheese, nutrition and dairy ingredients to consumers across the globe, made from milk sourced from 1,220 local, family-owned dairy farms. Carbery is the home of family favourite Dubliner Cheese.
When/why did you get involved in Origin Green?
Carbery was one of the first companies to obtain Origin Green certification back in 2013. Sustainability is innate within Carbery, and as a company with a heritage rooted in farming communities, thinking about the long term and operating sustainably is instinctive for us.
We have integrated sustainability into our core business strategy. Origin Green membership provided us with a structure and system to implement/measure sustainability across the company, and with the Bord Bia Sustainability Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) we can also measure carbon footprint and sustainability at farm level.
What achievements/progress have you made in your Origin Green plan?
Carbery is aiming for a 33% reduction in energy production/unit of production over the time it has been a member of Origin Green and we are firmly on track to deliver that. That reduced energy intensity is having a very positive impact on our emissions portfolio. This, coupled with our purchase of green electricity, ensures the site is on track to be carbon-neutral by 2035.
We measure water use closely to help ensure that it is being used efficiently, being reused where appropriate, and returned back safely to the natural environment. Through our ‘Every Drop Counts’ water conservation project we have saved 1.4 million litres of water on a daily basis. Since 2010, that equates to a 28% reduction in water consumption/tonne of production.
We have made a concerted effort on biodiversity through initiatives like the Carbery Trees, which has seen over 45,000 trees planted throughout West Cork farms and homesteads. Extensive biodiversity enhancement works have also occurred at our HQ in Ballineen.
We have continued the culture of sponsoring community initiatives, local sporting events and local charities, as well as involving the company with schools in business training and student mentoring. Carbery has established a Wellness Team, a Ways of Working (WOW) group and a Food Safety Culture team.
What are the key points of your sustainability plan?
We plan to be carbon-neutral by 2035, so we will take every opportunity to decarbonise our manufacturing sites. We also have a zero waste to landfill ambition and our focus on that is to avoid waste in the first place.
How do you work with farmers?
In 2012, we launched Carbery Greener Dairy Farms (CGDF), a dairy-efficiency programme designed to monitor and optimise resource allocation and best practice on farm. There has been an average carbon footprint reduction of 15% on participating farms, placing them among the lowest in the world.
In 2018, Carbery joined the Agricultural Sustainability Support and Advisory Programme (ASSAP). Working with Teagasc, the Local Authorities Waters Programme, the EPA and many other stakeholders, we are aiming to improve water quality in catchments in the Carbery region.
What’s next in your sustainability journey?
With a stand-alone sustainability strategy, our goal is to achieve a fully sustainable chain of operations along with carbon-neutral status for our manufacturing sites by 2035. We are also spearheading a project called Farm Zero C, which is developing a carbon-neutral dairy farm.