The topic of sustainability is not a new one in the food industry. In fact, the terms “food miles” and “greenhous gases” are bandied about as a regular part of modern parlance. For several years now multinational companies such as Marks and Spencer and Nestle have had sustainability high on their agenda and have kept the general public well informed of both their targets and achievements in relation to their sustainable practices. With these businesses making sustainability top of their agenda it makes great business sense for Irish Food and Drink suppliers, such as Glenilen Farm, to become globally recognised for their commitment to sustainable practices too.
As a result, Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board with which most of us are familiar, have developed a unique sustainability development programme called Origin Green, to internationally demonstrate the commitment of Irish food and drink producers to operating sustainably. But how can “operating sustainably” be defined? The Origin Green programme very simply, yet comprehensively, measures sustainability in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, water management, biodiversity, energy conservation, community initiatives and health and nutrition.
So far 269 Irish companies have signed up for the Origin Green programme. However, Glenilen Farm is very proud to announce that of these 269 companies they are one of only 23 verified members. Membership of Origin Green means Glenilen Farm has a sound platform for placing sustainability at its very heart; and that it exactly we have been striving to do since they started their business in 1997.
In fact, at Glenilen Farm sustainability means generating success that can be enjoyed by generations to come. By enhancing their local environment and constantly striving towards continuous improvement we believe in the benefits of a sustainable business and have taken several proactive steps to make their business both sustainable and viable. A few of the schemes we have undertaken are outlined below.
The Solar Panel Project:
In 2010 we took the big step to invest heavily in 112 square meters of solar panels which were installed on the Glenilen Farm dairy. Every day the factory requires a large volume of water for wash down purposes which amazingly is now heated by the wonderful solar panels.
There is something to be said for living in climate where there is lots of rain! The roof area on the dairy at Glenilen covers 1,600mts sq and all rain water is harvested from this roof. It runs through a filter system, is treated with chlorine, and is then heated by solar and used for wash down purposes.
Return Your Bottle Scheme:
Every week we hold a stand at beautiful Mahon Point market in Cork. Here for over 2 years customers have been able to purchase a glass bottle of milk and return to have it filled weekly with milk from a Glenilen Farm churn.
The Drimoleague Community Walkway Project:
In August 2009, with the support of Bord Failte and West Cork Development Partnership a new walkway in Drimoleague was launched as a link to the world renowned Sheeps Head Way. A section of the walk runs through Glenilen Farm where the restored Aunifunsion bridge, stepping stones , and arched timber ‘Manager’s Bridge ’area brings many walking enthusiasts and day trippers alike, as well as local children on a hot day for a swim. We are delighted that the previously hidden and inaccessible area is now accessible and enjoyed by so many. This project will bring an expected 8,000 visitors to the area each year.
Although the progress towards sustainability has been significant in Glenilen Farm over the past few years, there are lots more plans to be implemented to make Glenilen Farm a continually improving business. As laid out in the Glenilen Farm Sustainability Plan, the target is to reduce electricity consumption by 10% by 2017 and to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 20% by 2016. There is also a scheme in place to reduce the waste to landfill by 20% by 2017 and to reduce water usage by 10% by 2018. These projects are only a tip of the iceberg in relation to making Glenilen Farm a truly sustainable business, both now and in the future.