Ireland has long been known as the island with forty shades of green, and in the last twenty years the green movement has begun to live up to that image. During that time a disparate group of ecologists, business people, scientists, politicians and others have been working together to develop sustainable living on the island.
From a business standpoint, this has meant accepting that being green is not a negative thing and can in fact generate profits and decrease waste within a company. Areas such as energy and waste disposal have been regulated through a mixture of EU directives and grassroots movements. It may seem confusing in the beginning but there’s plenty of help out there for business owners and managers.
Enterprise Ireland is the agency with responsibility for helping and promoting Irish business. Find exact details on waste and energy needs for your specific business in their Enviro Centre.
Sustainable Energy for Irish businesses
Take a drive through the Irish countryside, and you will soon spot the most visible signs of green business – wind turbines. The Irish Wind Energy Association report that in March 2009 there were 113 wind farms with 1,032 turbines scattered around 21 counties.
These farms are part of a government commitment to increasing production of green power to 40% of national needs by 2020. During the recent Global Wind Day celebrations the IWEA predicted that up to 10,500 jobs could be created in the wind industry and associated industries between now and 2020.
This is particularly good news at the moment. The authors of the ‘Jobs and Investment in Irish Wind Energy Study’ estimate that jobs could be created in areas like transport, upgrading the grid and construction. And although the report does point up possible obstacles including lack of awareness among small and medium businesses, the association seems confident these can be overcome.
As wind power becomes more effective, business owners have seen the effects of competition in their energy bills. A new entry to the energy market, Airtricity has set itself up as an alternative to existing electricity and natural gas companies with energy drawn from 79% renewable sources. And good for the accountants with price reductions of up to 10% promised on previous bills.
Recycling and Irish Businesses
Waste is another complex matter for most businesses. A noticeable change in Irish landfill patterns came as a result of the WEEE Regulations concerning the dumping of electrical waste. The non-profit organization WEEE Ireland works with retailers and producers to find cost-effective ways for controlling this waste. Already working with about 80% of producers and retailers in Ireland, they help businesses meet their obligations under environmental laws. For example the WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC places responsibility on companies to:
- Promote recycling
- Prevent waste of electrical appliances or batteries or IT equipment
- To improve the effective performance of goods so that they are more beneficial to the environment.
What Business Owners in Ireland Can Do
Sustainability in Ireland is becoming a core tenet for all business. A few simple steps could make sure your business complies with relevant legislation and cut costs.
Have your business audited by a company such as Energy Admin or Energy Services.
Use the directory at Cultivate to find architects or other consultants to guide you on the way to sustainability. Fund any major changes with a Green Loan from the Bank of Ireland .
By Niamh Griffin
Niamh Griffin is a freelance writer, focusing on the environment, fitness and community issues. She can be contacted at email@example.com. You can also follow her at http://writeronthewayhome.blogspot.com.