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Address byTara McCarthy, CEO, Bord Bia, at AEJ lunch.

Tara McCarthy

Through Origin Green, the entire food industry is measuring its sustainability performance. The aim is to set a baseline against which to measure future improvements.

Each week, a team of over 100 auditors undertake around 800 inspections on the beef and dairy farms of Origin Green members.  As part of this, over 160,000 farm carbon footprint assessments are assisting in the setting of a baseline.

Bord Bia has also set a target to transition its other Quality Assurance Schemes (egg, poultry, pig and horticulture) to Sustainable Assurance Schemes by 2018.

In 2012, 8 founding member businesses signed up to Origin Green.

Today, there are over 270 members, representing 90% of total Irish food and drink exports. A further 160 companies are preparing plans for verification.  They range in size from sole operators to large multi-national organisations.

When it comes to setting targets, a one-size-fits-all approach is not adopted because no two businesses are identical. Targets that are specific and demanding to each business are set.

The programme expanded in 2016 to include retail and food service members, of which there are now 5 pilot companies on board.

Origin Green members committed to more than 1,600 ambitious sustainability targets in 2016. Such is the collective impact of Origin Green’s business membership that results such as these are expected:

A waste reduction equivalent to 50,000 wheelie bins in just three years

An energy reduction equivalent to taking over 4,000 cars off the road

Saving enough water to fill 660 Olympic sized swimming pools by the end of 2017

The scale and diversity of the Origin Green member base allows for significant quantifiable change on a national scale. The credibility of the process is guaranteed by independent verification, and is rooted in science and best practice.

Sustainability is not an end goal, nor even a final destination. It is an ongoing project. It is a way of being, of doing, of adapting to become better and more responsible producers and providers of food for today and for the future – for the benefit of all.

Collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, both in Ireland and abroad, has been vital in the development and roll out of Origin Green across the entire food and drink supply chain in Ireland. This work of partnering and collaborating will continue into the future.

Origin Green needs to constantly evolve, measuring what matters on an ongoing basis. This is to ensure that sustainable food production is both viable and achievable, but – most importantly – to ensure that it makes a positive difference.  Our ambition for Origin Green is to shape food production for a growing population in a way that reduces its impact on the environment and ensures the industry’s future viability, while also enhancing its positive impact on society into the future.