Operating on a national scale, Origin Green is Ireland’s pioneering food and beverage sustainability programme. In an exclusive interview with Hotel & Catering News Middle East, Deirdre Ryan, director of Origin Green and Sustainable Assurance, Bord Bia (Irish Food Board), shares her views on the Irish industry.
What’s Origin Green and how has it helped the Irish food and beverage industry?
Origin Green is Ireland’s food and beverage sustainability programme, established by Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board) in 2012. It’s driving sustainability improvements across the entire supply chain, from farmers and manufacturers, to foodservice and retailers.
Recognising that Origin Green was uniquely placed to play a pivotal role in helping the Irish food and beverage industry deliver meaningful contributions to the advancement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their associated targets, the programme continues to evolve to advance this global agenda.
What progress has Origin Green made since it was established in 2012?Many of Ireland’s food and beverage producers and dedicated farmers are eight years into their Origin Green journey. The key benefits of the programme are more environmentally aware farms, an important focus on community, and enhanced sustainable food and beverage production, which ultimately contribute to sustainable livelihoods.
Since its inception, Origin Green has grown to collaborate with 53,000 farms and 330 leading Irish food and beverage companies. Providing programmes for farmers, manufacturers and retailers, the programme is independently monitored and verified at every stage. Members of Origin Green account for 90% of Ireland’s food and beverage exports and 70% of its domestic retailers.
How will Origin Green reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions?
Over the past five years, all members have achieved significant results and the programme’s critical focus on proof and progress provides strong foundations for facing the challenges of the future.
Over 260,000 carbon assessments have taken place on beef and dairy farms over this period. Origin Green’s Progress Update highlights that farms which joined the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) in 2014 saw an average 5% reduction in CO2 per unit of beef produced, while farms that joined the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) in the same year saw an average of 9% reduction in CO2 per unit of milk produced. Food manufacturers also reduced energy usage by 11% and water usage by 17% per unit of output.
Origin Green makes very strong claims about the sustainable and environmental performance of producers in Ireland. What’s the scientific evidence and data to support this?
The sustainability targets set by Origin Green-verified members are independently reviewed and third party verified on an annual basis by international verification specialists Mabbett.
Bord Bia is an accredited certification body and the sustainable assurance farm schemes meet an internationally recognised standard (ISO17065).
It’s worth noting that carbon footprint assessments are independently accredited by the Carbon Trust to its PAS 2050 Standard.
Origin Green has incorporated the SDGs and the corresponding targets in its objectives and uses them as guidance in the ongoing development of the programme. In 2016, Bord Bia demonstrated the alignment of the Origin Green Charter with nine of the 17 UN SDGs. The Charter guides the development of a three- to five-year plan committing to specific sustainability improvements across three key areas: raw material sourcing, manufacturing/operational processes and social sustainability.
Subsequently, with the addition of new target areas to the charter such as packaging under raw material sourcing and diversity and inclusion under social sustainability, the Origin Green Charter now aligns with 15 of the 17 UN SDGs.
To further support Origin Green’s alignment with the UN SDGs, Bord Bia became a United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) member on June 26, 2018. This further guides Bord Bia’s ongoing development and evolution of the Origin Green programme into the future and deepens Bord Bia’s steadfast commitment to promoting the delivery of the SDGs within the Irish food and drink industry.