What is Origin Green?
Origin Green is Ireland’s food and drink sustainability programme.
It is a voluntary programme, led by Bord Bia, that brings together our food industry – from farmers to food producers, retailers to foodservice operators – with the common goal of sustainable food production. This programme enables Ireland’s food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively. Crucially, Origin Green is about measuring and improving how we do this on an ongoing basis.
Origin Green members include farmers and food businesses such as food and beverage manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operators.
The overall ambition of the Origin Green programme is that farms and food manufacturing businesses throughout Ireland sign up to the sustainability agenda, making measurable commitments to producing in a sustainable manner, with progress independently assessed and verified.
Realising that no one country, sector or individual business can solely lead the move towards global sustainable production, we are committed to working with both domestic and international partners to improve performance through collaboration.
How does Origin Green work?
Origin Green for farmers
On-farm assessments constitute a key component of the Origin Green programme. The rollout of sustainability assessments at farm level has been made possible by Bord Bia’s pre-existing Quality Assurance infrastructure, which has been in place for over twenty years. This infrastructure sees more than 100 farm auditors undertake almost 800 independent farm audits each week. Traditionally, these assessments have focused on traceability, animal health & welfare, and general environmental issues, with an overarching focus on food safety. All of these elements are still relevant from a sustainability perspective.
In 2012, these well-established schemes were expanded into Sustainable Assurance Schemes, marking the beginning of Origin Green.
Origin Green expands the scope and depth of sustainability measures tracked, in order to ensure that the programme delivers an assessment system which measures what matters. The additional sustainability criteria being measured to date, as part of Origin Green include greenhouse gas; biodiversity; water measures; energy efficiency; soil management and socio-economic factors. The information gathered by each auditor is combined with data from two other national livestock databases; the Animal Identification & Movement (AIM) and the Irish Cattle Breeders Federation (ICBF).
Following each audit, the farmer receives notification of the results in a feedback report on the farm’s performance, with reassessments every 18 months. This allows them to make informed decisions on improving the sustainability of their farms while also improving their efficiency and farm viability.
To date, there are over 50,000 farmers in the newly launched Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme. Launched in November 2017, Sustainable Egg Quality Assurance Scheme (SEAS) already covers 97% of Irish egg production. Sustainability assurance schemes are also being developed for poultry and pigs.
Origin Green for food businesses
Ireland’s food business members commit to a mandatory mix of target areas specified by the Origin Green Charters; Manufacturing, and Retail and Foodservice. The mandatory areas, from which targets are set, form the basis of a business’s 3-5 year sustainability plan. The plan is independently verified by international inspection, testing and verification specialists, SGS, to ensure the targets are viable and robust. Each plan is reviewed annually and monitored for progress against the set targets. Membership of the programme is confined to those setting and achieving targets.
The mandatory mix of areas include:
- Raw material sourcing (minimum 1 target in this area)
- Manufacturing processes and operations (such as energy, water, waste, emissions and biodiversity (minimum 3 targets in this area)
- Social sustainability, including health and nutrition; community initiatives; and employee wellbeing (minimum 2 targets in this area)
At present, Origin Green has over 300 companies with independently verified and annually monitored sustainability plans. These members represent 90% of total Irish food and drink exports.