Helping companies go green is all in a day’s work for LEOs

Local Enterprise Offices nationwide have launched a campaign to support businesses to become lean, green and digital

Barry Kerrigan of Kerrigans Butchers: “As with most companies we are always concerned about reducing waste, so there was a scheme for a ‘green’ grant that I availed of and advice from a consultant who helped us to set goals.”

Profit is at the heart of every business, but increasingly companies are looking to implement sustainable practices into their daily operations – so learning how to become both successful and environmentally friendly is top of the agenda.

In a bid to help businesses achieve this goal, Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) around the country have recently launched a campaign entitled www.allinadayswork.ie, which offers support and guidance in becoming lean, green and digital.

The scheme is open to all small businesses, and experts are on hand to help them identify key areas where improvements can be made to allow firms to become more sustainable, which in turn will help them to save time, energy and money.

John Magee, chair of the LEO network, said that while many small firms are finding it difficult to incorporate their green ideals into their business models, they are not alone as there is plenty of help available as they take “those first daunting steps through the initial stages”.

“While many smaller businesses are mindful of their sustainability responsibilities, they are struggling to prioritise this at a time when they’re short staffed and also extremely busy,” he said.

“That is why the LEOs are providing practical support through our Green for Business programme and Energy Efficiency Grant – we can help with the initial steps to sustainability.”

Barry Kerrigan of Kerrigans Butchers can attest to that. His family business has been around for two generations, but in order to ensure its longevity for many more years, it needed to move with the times. So he turned to his LEO, which helped with digital support, both practical and financial.

He also received advice on carbon footprints, and putting together both a business and a ‘green’ plan for the future by availing of Green for Business.

“We got the Trading Online Voucher, which gave us a very helpful contribution to the website, and I also did a social media training course,” Kerrigan said. “As with most companies we are always concerned about reducing waste, so there was a scheme for a ‘green’ grant that I availed of and advice from a consultant who helped us to set goals and gave us something to start from – looking at the supply chain and every single ingredient; it’s ongoing.

“Also, it’s very important to keep our skills up to date, so we will definitely be leaning into the LEO again – the training is excellent and it really makes an impact.”

John Mulleady – who, together with his wife Michelle, runs AIP Thermoform – said their company ethos is ‘continuous improvement and reduced impact on the environment’. They decided to participate in the Green for Business programme to compare their company with others and also to endorse the policy and procedures they already had in place.

They found the experience of having an objective eye looking at their work practices to be very valuable.

“Our inventory was very high and the consultant identified this as a major issue, so we have worked at reducing stock and improving our efficiency,” Mulleady said.

“We also got involved in the Green for Micro (now Green for Business), which focused on our energy consumption and digitalisation and involved the removal of paper records, and we were asked to partake in a digital preservation project.

“We wanted to focus on this aspect of our business and narrow it down as much as possible, and this allowed us to do that.”

Going lean, green and digital is indeed the way of the future and it is vital for businesses to have a clear, workable and beneficial sustainability plan. So, regardless of size, sector, or indeed ‘green challenges’, LEOs are there to help businesses take the first step on their green journey, which will be mutually beneficial for the business, its customers and suppliers.

John Magee, chair of the LEO network

“It is something which businesses can’t ignore – or, if they do, it will only be a short-term game as non-sustainable companies are running out of road, because consumers, clients and suppliers are demanding greener and more sustainable companies,” said John Magee.

“We have found that small businesses, particularly those who are just starting out, are more tuned into this than larger companies – as they know that, not only do customers demand it, but many are sub-suppliers to international companies who need a green or sustainable supply chain.”

Aine Moine Grieve of Comet Textiles in Donegal is in agreement. She said that since getting involved with her LEO and working on the Green for Business programme, they have been able to enhance the sustainable journey the business was already on.

“Everything we do here is powered by electricity, so one of the things the consultant came up with was installing solar panels,” she said. “We had a 6-kW system installed, which means that we are now solar powered when the sun shines and we will save €20,000 on our electricity costs in the coming years – which is a lot of money to small companies like ours and really helps us move forward.

“I would absolutely encourage any small business to get involved with their LEO, because if we all make small changes in how we use our resources, it will have a massive impact.”

See: localenterprise.ie/Green; allinadayswork.ie