October 3rd, 2017
A leading conservation charity has called on the Government to scrap Origin Green after three companies certified by the food sustainability scheme were listed on the EPA’s worst polluters list.
The three agri-businesses – Arrabawn Co-operative Society Limited in Co Tipperary, Carbery Food Ingredients Limited in Ballineen, Co Cork, and Dairygold Co-Operative Society Limited in Mallow, Co Cork – all feature in the environmental watchdog’s new quarterly national priority sites list of worst offenders for breaching environmental regulations.
Companies are ranked based on six months worth of data on complaints, incidents, compliance investigations, and non-compliances (NCs) with licences. Companies on the list are subject to increased inspections and monitoring by the environmental regulator in an effort to drive improvements in compliance.
Speaking about the priority sites list at last week’s Environment Ireland conference, EPA Director General Laura Burke said that “five out of 800 EPA-regulated sites accounted for over half the complaints” in 2017, however, she did not specify the names of the companies.
The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) has called for the government to scrap its ‘Origin Green’ certification programme based on the findings against the three companies. Origin Green was created by Bord Bia and is billed as the world’s first national food sustainability programme.
According to the IWT, however, such marketing initiatives “significantly hinder” efforts at environmental protection by creating the “false impression that all is well in the countryside”.
Bord Bia received over €32 million funding in 2016 through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) for the marketing of Irish food. In comparison, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is set to receive funding of just over €11m in 2017 through the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
This figure includes funding for the running costs of six National Parks and 78 statutory Nature Reserves, improvements to existing visitor facilities, completion and the opening of new visitor facilities, and conservation-related scientific surveys.
IWT Campaigns Officer, Pádraic Fogarty, said that the NPWS should receive significantly more funding in order to fulfil its remit of managing our natural heritage, and called on Origin Green to be “exposed for the sham that it is”.
“Instead of being a tool to promote better environmental performance it is simply a smokescreen for ‘greenwashing’ the significant environmental problems which we face,” he added.
Neither Bord Bia and DAFM replied to requests at the time of publication for comment on the inclusion of the companies on the EPA list, and if any action will be taken in relation to their Origin Green accreditation.