Finding the Competitive Edge through Resource Efficiency and Waste Reduction

Being a step ahead of the competitors is the name of the game in business. Having the information to allow you to be resource efficient and to keep waste to a minimum must be the game plan. At a recent Seminar in the Abbey Court Hotel in Nenagh hosted by Tipperary Green Business Network in partnership with the EPA Green Business Programme, the attendees received many tips on how to better manage their input resources and to minimize their waste. In his opening address, Sean O’ Farrell chairman of Tipperary Green Business Network advised that there is an emerging shift in the model of material use. Traditionally businesses operated with a model of ‘design, manufacture, use and dispose’. Due to the huge pressures on the environment we are seeing a greater focus on the ‘circular economy’, where materials at the end of their normal life cycle are remodelled or redesigned to function as a new resource.

 

Photo L-R Derry o' Donnell,Zero Waste Cashel, Margaret Murphy, Southern Waste Region Management, Sean O'Farrell, Chairman Tipperary Green Business Network & Cloncannon Biofarm, Conor Stakelum, Stakelum Office Supplies, James Hogan, Green Business Programme, Alan Jackson, Tipperary Energy Agency, Kate Walsh, TGBN, Dave Corboy, Revived and Retro and VOICE Recycling Ambassador VOICE, Phil Walker, EcoMerit Missing from photo is Alan Markin, Allied Irish Banks

Photo L-R Derry o’ Donnell,Zero Waste Cashel, Margaret Murphy, Southern Waste Region Management, Sean O’Farrell, Chairman Tipperary Green Business Network & Cloncannon Biofarm, Conor Stakelum, Stakelum Office Supplies, James Hogan, Green Business Programme, Alan Jackson, Tipperary Energy Agency, Kate Walsh, TGBN, Dave Corboy, Revived and Retro and VOICE Recycling Ambassador VOICE, Phil Walker, EcoMerit Missing from photo is Alan Markin, Allied Irish Banks

 

Tipperary Energy Agency have a fine reputation in advising business and community groups on best practice in energy efficiency, renewable energy options and making Tipperary a leader in sustainability. Alan Jackson (TEA) outlined the details of targets for reductions in CO2 emissions of 30% from 2005 levels by 2020 for county Tipperary. This will be achieved by using 5 key technologies:  heat pumps, electric cars, solar panels, led lighting and wind energy. Alan explained how Tipp Energy Agency supports businesses in carrying out an energy audit and making cost savings for their business. He gave details of the government energy efficiency obligation scheme (EEOS) and the renewables energy support scheme (RESS).

James Hogan from the Green Business Programme presentation gave 9 simple actions which business owners can take to reduce wastage, reduce costs and help sustain their business into the future. All of these actions have “No Cost” or “Low Cost” The actions include segregate waste better, reduce disposal materials such as coffee cups from your business, source sustainable raw materials and concentrate in green procurement.  James said that businesses should also look at water consumption and in gave some simple steps to reduce it. These are fixing water leaks, manage urinals and reduce the flow rates in taps and hoses.  As Energy is the largest utility cost for most businesses controlling this resource is essential for business and the climate. Energy Actions suggested were to install LED lights which can reduce electricity from 50% to 80% depending on existing fittings.  Identifying and managing the main energy users and moving to renewable energy where possible will also reduce costs.

On his first outing as Voice (voice of Irish concern for the environment) ambassador, Dave Carboy gave an informative presentation on waste segregation.  He advised which plastics and other products cannot be recycled and he highlighted the importance of washing out cartons etc. His short video clip from a waste management company demonstrated the headache of mixed and dirty waste, and also the additional staffing costs for the waste management company, which inevitably has to be passed back to the householder or business.  Dave also showcased some of the beautifully upcycled products he produces in his own business, – Revived and Retro, a super example of the circular economy.

One of the key players in waste prevention/minimization at a regional level is the southern region waste management office. Margaret Murphy (SRWMO) told the audience about their partner agencies in waste prevention and initiatives towards a circular economy. She informed the businesses of initiatives around energy/waste audits, environmental certification and cost savings. Continuing on this theme, Phil Walker of EcoMerit gave some case studies of audits, programmes to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. A local business who has adopted the EcoMerit programme is Stakelums Office Supplies Thurles and Conor Stakelum outlined the steps his company took to look at the inefficiencies and put a remediation plan in place. Conor outlined the importance of staff training and continued reviewing of progress.

Great progress is also being made in the town of Cashel with the collaboration of various agencies to encourage sustainable consumption and waste reduction. Derry O’ Donnell is the project manager of Zero Waste Cashel and he outlined the actions for community engagement in this journey of waste reduction. A huge amount of ‘energy’ is going into engaging businesses, youth groups, schools, second-hand/charity shops, men’s shed,  and upcycling projects in this pilot waste reduction project. Derry shared some useful links for business to reduce waste, for example, – SMILE (save money through industry links and exchanges) and the Stop Food Waste programme.

The final speaker at the seminar was Alan Markin of AIB, who spoke on Energy Efficiency Finance, citing the significant savings made by number of number of companies when they invested in energy efficiency.

All presentations from the seminar can be found on http://greenbusiness.ie/case-study-cat/gb-seminar-presentations

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