Green Business Initiative

The Green Business Initiative (GBI) is a project designed to promote waste prevention and resource efficiency within the business sector and amongst organisations generally. The Green Business Initiative seeks to work with enterprises and other organisations by providing practical tools and independent support to enable users to save money and increase profits, whilst helping the environment.

There are three main projects currently underway within the Green Business Initiative:

  1. Greenbusiness.ie - an exciting graphic driven web site containing a host of information and tools to help businesses and other organisations save money and become more resource efficient. The website includes waste and water audit tools. It also provides a helpline for advice on best environmental practice. Linked to the website is a free site advisory service whereby an experienced consultant will visit organisations for more tailored advice. "Greenbusiness.ie" went live in August 2008.
  2. Case Study Implementation (CSI) - finding examples of best practice in business and promoting these, by illustrating what cost and material savings are possible by adopting simple changes to business processes and practices. Reducing material usage and waste generation will reduce costs.
  3. Hotels sectoral projects - the Green Hospitality Award is available to hotels and similar businesses that demonstrate progress towards environmental sustainable practices. 135 of Irelands largest hotels are already engaged in this important project.

Greenbusiness.ie

This site will host a range of environmental audit tools and guidance that will enable businesses and other organisations to carry out audits for waste, water and energy use. The audit tools will be backed up by e-mail and telephone help lines and businesses will be able to avail of a free site visit from an expert consultant, who will advise users on the best prevention techniques for their business, allowing them to take measures to save money and help the environment. The site visit will primarily concentrate on low cost measures that deliver the maximum cost savings to the business. The site and tool will be hosted and operated remotely from and independent of the EPA. At least 75% of the site visits will be sub-contracted to other contractors to ensure knowledge transfer in the advisory sector.

A multi-year framework contract agreement for the ongoing management of greenbusiness.ie and the audit tools was awarded to Enviros Consulting and work on the project commenced in January 2008. The development of the tools is concluding in July 2008 and the website went live in August 2008.

Case Studies and CSI

The EPA is seeking prevention case studies from industry and a panel of expert contractors has been engaged to prepare prevention case studies. The EPA will pay for the preparation and publication of good prevention case studies. Proposals are welcome from any organisation and ideas can be discussed in advance with the EPA. Contact wasteinfo@epa.ie  for more information.

Sectoral Approach

Sectors are being identified for special attention under the Green Business Initiative where they present specific opportunities for waste prevention. The hotels and hospitality sector is the first such sector. The Greening Irish Hotels project was funded by the EPA through the ERTDI Programme in 2006 and demonstrated that Irish hotels lag considerably behind international benchmark performance indicators in waste generation and water and energy use.

The Green Business Initiative has, expanded the successful Greening Irish Hotels project into a national award scheme and project. This project will incrementally recognise increased levels of sustainability and increased resource efficiency in participating hotels. The scheme, called the Green Hospitality Award, is based on the former "Green Failte Award", which was already supported by local authorities in the Cork and Limerick/Clare/Kerry regions.

The project encourages hotels to work towards best practice in the sector, and can act as a springboard for hotels to reach work class standard, equivalent to the EU Flower standard, the Europe-wide eco-label for the tourism accommodation sector.

A multi-year framework contract agreement (with an opening 12-month phase) was awarded to the Clean Technology Centre and Hospitality Solutions Consulting. To date 135 hotels are participating in the scheme. On 23 April 2008, Minister of State for the Environment, Tony Killeen T.D., presented 18 hotels with Green Hospitality Awards.

The Proposed National Hazardous Waste Management Plan recommends ambitious prevention initiatives for six priority sectors. These sectors will be addressed in turn in an holistic manner - i.e. taking non-hazardous waste, water and resource use into account as well as hazardous waste

Why Change?

It is now easier than ever to do your bit towards caring for the environment and building a cleaner future. Good waste management practice saves money and can also improve staff moral. It’s simple. If we all reduce the amount of rubbish we produce, reuse more of the products we already have and recycle as much as possible, we will dramatically reduce our waste levels — a crucial goal for Ireland’s environmental health.

In 2005, a total of 3.05 million tonnes of municipal waste (household and commercial waste combined) was generated in Ireland, an increase of 65 per cent since 1995. While the rate of increase is slowing, the direction is still upward. The amount of municipal waste generated per capita has reduced from 743 kg in 2004 to 738 kg in 2005.

In absolute terms, the quantity of municipal waste landfilled has increased by 0.3 per cent since 2004, while the quantity of material recycled has increased by 9 per cent. Combined, this results in an overall increase in municipal waste recovery from 32.7 per cent in 2004 to 34.6 per cent in 2005.

The time to act is now. We cannot sustain this level of waste. It places severe pressure on our environment and our waste management services — landfill is the main waste disposal route but we are running out of landfill space.