What is Origin Green?
Origin Green is Ireland’s pioneering food and drink sustainability programme, operating on a national scale, uniting government, the private sector and the full supply chain from farmers to food producers and right through to the foodservice and retail sectors. The programme is the worlds’ only national food and drink sustainability programme, and enables the industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets that respect the environment and serve local communities more effectively.
Providing programmes for farmers, producers, manufacturers and retailers, the Origin Green programme is independently monitored and verified. Verified Origin Green members account for 90% of our food and drink exports and over 70% of our domestic retail market. Accreditation at farm-level is provided to ISO: 17065 and Carbon Trust (PAS 2050), while food and drink manufacturers are independently verified by international auditors, Mabbett.
The benefits of Origin Green are more environmentally aware farms, an important focus on community and more sustainable food and drink production which ultimately contribute to sustainable livelihoods. This is what makes Ireland’s food and drink produce the first choice globally; it is trusted as sustainably produced by people who care.
Progress Under Origin Green
The Origin Green Progress Update Report demonstrates the progress achieved under the programme:
Over a five-year period under Origin Green, over 260,000 carbon assessments took place on beef and dairy farms. Farms that joined the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Schemes in 2014 saw an average of 5% reduction in CO2 per unit of beef produced by year end 2018. Farms that joined the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Schemes in 2014 saw an average of 9% reduction in CO2 per unit of milk produced to year end 2018.
During this time food manufacturers delivered an 11% reduction in energy use per unit of output and a 17% reduction in water use per unit of output. They donated 4,717 tonnes of surplus food to FoodCloud, planted 9,261 trees on manufacturing sites and donated over €8m to community and charity organisations.
10 of the largest foodservice companies and retailers in Ireland are verified members of Origin Green. There has been good progress since the pilot launch in 2016, and Bord Bia aims to increase membership. 4 of the 5 biggest retailers are on board to drive their sustainability agenda forward as part of the Origin Green Retail & Foodservice Charter.
New additions to the programme such as the Farmer Feedback Report introduced in 2019 and the updated Origin Green Charter and the Farmer Sustainability Programme in development in 2020 will be important in accelerating future sustainability achievements by members of Origin Green.
The overall ambition of the Origin Green programme is that Irish food and drink is the first choice globally because it is trusted as sustainably produced by people who care.
The programme aims to have farms and food and drink manufacturing businesses throughout Ireland sign up to the sustainability agenda, making measurable commitments to producing in a sustainable manner, with progress independently assessed and verified.
Realising that no one country, sector or individual business can solely lead the move towards global sustainable production, Origin Green is committed to working with both domestic and international partners to improve performance through collaboration.
How does Origin Green Work?
Origin Green for Farmers
On-farm assessments constitute a key component of the Origin Green programme. Sustainability assessments are rolled out at farm level through Bord Bia’s Sustainability Assurance Schemes. At farm level, there are over 53,000 members of Bord Bia’s Sustainable Assurance Schemes for beef and lamb farmers (92% of beef produced), dairy farmers (95% of milk produced), horticulture (70% of horticulture) and egg (95% of eggs), which are aligned to Origin Green. Sustainability assurance schemes are also being developed for poultry and pigs.
Throughout the country, over 100 independent auditors, working on behalf of Bord Bia, undertake 650 weekly engagements on farm as part of these programmes. In addition to quality, the sustainability criteria measured and monitored are greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, water use, energy efficiency, soil management and socio-economic factors. Origin Green offers practical guidance and advice to inform farmers on how to become more sustainable, primarily through the Farmer Feedback Report implemented in 2019.
Bord Bia auditors gather data during the audit process through the Sustainability Survey that enables Bord Bia to assess the environmental performance of quality assured farms via a carbon footprint calculation. The data gathered is now being used to generate a new farmer feedback report which includes a summary of farm performance under the following headings: General Farm Performance, Carbon Footprint, Greenhouse Gases, Nutrient Management, Grassland Management and Farm Health and Safety. The reported data will compare current farm performance against changes since the last audit and similar production systems. The new farmer feedback report is designed to demonstrate to members how their farm inputs and activities contribute to GHG production and contains advice and feedback on how to mitigate against emissions and improve production efficiencies. Reassessments take place every 18 months allowing.
Bord Bia is currently working on a Farm Sustainability Programme (FSP) which is an ambitious programme that aims to facilitate a national, unified approach to sustainability improvement on Irish farms.
Find out more about the Bord Bia sustainable assurance schemes.
Origin Green for Food Businesses
Origin Green equips food manufacturers, retailer and foodservice companies to meet the evolving sustainability needs and demands of global consumer markets. Currently over 320 food and drink companies across Ireland are verified members of Origin Green, representing over 90% of food and drink exports. To date, our verified member companies have set over 2,400 sustainability targets demonstrating their commitment to improving the sustainability and environmental footprint of their businesses.
The Origin Green programme was expanded in 2016 to include foodservice and retailers. Over 10 of the largest foodservice companies and retailers in Ireland are verified members of Origin Green, these companies represent 70% of our domestic retail market. 4 of the 5 biggest retailers are on board to drive their sustainability agenda forward as part of the Origin Green Retail & Foodservice Charter. These companies have developed five-year sustainability action plans which will be reviewed annually. As part of this, 212 sustainability targets have been set. The Origin Green Progress Report provides a catalogue of excellent verified member case studies which can be accessed here.
Our members commit to a mandatory mix of target areas specified by the Origin Green Charters; Manufacturing, and Retail and Foodservice. The mandatory areas, from which targets are set, form the basis of a business’s 3-5 year sustainability plan.
These programmes are monitored annually and independently verified by international specialists Mabbett. Each plan is reviewed annually and monitored for progress against the set targets. Membership of the programme is confined to those setting and achieving targets. Each member must also submit a progress report annually outlining the performance against the targets established within their respective sustainability plans. This annual review is also audited by Mabbett to ensure progress is being achieved against targets set. This is carried out through a mixture of both on-site and desktop based audits.