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Ireland

Sustainability

Updated 12/2012

Legal requirements

The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government develops policy, regulates environmental quality and maintains information on the legal and procedural obligations relating to environmental control.

The Department of the Environment Community and Local Government is also responsible for maintaining and overseeing the implementation of Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development in Ireland (published in 2012).

Our Sustainable Future takes a holistic approach which is both practical and action oriented. The framework, which broadly follows the thematic approach of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy, allows for the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental to be addressed in ways that are pragmatic and mutually supportive and sets out a range of measures to be advanced and implemented over a medium to long term horizon.

Key priorities for action cut across many key challenges and include:

  • An effective framework for transition to an innovative, low-carbon and resource-efficient society. Identifying and adopting policies that can help achieve a shift towards a green economy, while maintaining fiscal stability and ensuring and ensuring sustainable public finances into the future.
  • Protecting and restoring our biodiversity and ecosystems so that benefits essential for all sectors of society will be delivered.
  • Securing health and social well-being to enable full participation in society and economic development.
  • Continuing to lead in Ireland’s international development efforts and remaining committed to reducing global poverty through sustainable development.
  • Effective governance arrangements to ensure delivery of sustainable development.
  • A partnership approach to implementation of the Framework.
  • Developing a set of indicators to measure and report on progress.

In early 2012 the Department also published Ireland’s first Green Public Procurement (GPP) National Action Plan, Green Tenders, introducing GPP as a whole-of-Government initiative and with a commitment to meet the EU target of 50% of GPP tendering. 

The overall objective of Green Tenders is to assist public authorities to successfully plan and implement green public procurement (GPP) by highlighting existing best-practice and outlining further actions to boost green public procurement. In particular it sets out a range of actions where green procurement can be strengthened within eight priority areas; Construction, Energy, Transport, Food and Catering Services, Cleaning Products and Services, Paper, Uniforms and Textiles, and ICT. It is an important tool to be deployed in advancing the Green Economy.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate Social Responsibility has been defined as:

"A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis." (European Commission)

Business in the Community Ireland and Chambers Ireland provide advice to businesses on corporate responsibility and corporate community involvement.

Standards

Quality management standards

ISO 9001:2008 is the world's foremost quality management standard. It sets out the essential requirements for a practical and effective quality management system (QMS). The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification in ISO 9001:2008.

Environmental management standards

The Irish Energy Management Standard sets out specifications for managing energy use in industry. It aims to help companies save energy, cut costs and improve energy and business performance by integrating energy management into their business structures.

The European Union's (EU) Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) helps you:

  • Assess whether or not your company complies with all national and EU environmental laws;
  • Identify ways to improve your environmental performance.

Signing up to EMAS also offers certification to all businesses complying with its rules.

The ISO 14001 Environmental Management Standard helps organisations to identify, manage and control those activities that have an environmental impact. The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification and training in ISO 14001. This standard helps your company to reduce waste and pollution and comply with legislative requirements, among other benefits.

Occupational safety management standards

The Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series of Standards (OHSAS) sets out the necessary requirements for an occupational health and safety (OH&S) management system.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland awards certification in OHSAS 18001:2007, which is the latest standard of this type. This standard sets out a preventative and proactive approach to identifying workplace hazards and assessing and controlling risk.

The law requires businesses to comply with minimum social and environmental rules.

Administrative procedures

Certification of standards

Quality management standards

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification and in Quality Management (ISO 9001:2008).

You can apply directly to the NSAI to obtain certification using an on-line Request for Quotation form. The certification process consists of five stages and once obtained the certificate expires within three years.

Environmental management standards

The IS EN ISO 50001 Energy Management Systems Standard sets out specifications for managing energy use in industry. The Standard can be used in conjunction with the Energy MAP (Energy Management Action Plan) from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). It is an online tool which provides a step by step guide to creating a best practice action plan for your business.

The Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) is the designated competent body for the EU's Eco-management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) in Ireland. In order to become an EMAS registered site you must first have your company's Environmental Statement verified by an Accredited EMAS verifier.  You should then submit the verified Environmental statement, application form and all necessary information together with registration payment, to INAB.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification and training in the Environmental Management Standard - ISO 14001.

Occupational safety management standards

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) provides certification and training in OHSAS 18001:2007.

You can make an application direct to the NSAI using an on-line Request for Quotation form.

Resources

Enterprise Ireland aims to raise environmental awareness among Ireland's business community. Its information portal covers:

  • environment management system;
  • eco-efficiency assessment;
  • ecodesign;
  • waste management & recycling;
  • climate change & energy;
  • REACH;
  • environment.

Business access to state information and services (BASIS) delivers government information and services to businesses online.

With effect from 2012, the sustainable development role previously carried out by Comhar Sustainable Development Council has been integrated into the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). Comhar was discontinued in December 2011. NESC facilitates input by its members into a broad range of highly influential research and analysis that informs Government policy. NESC representatives come from the Trade Union, Business & Employers, Agriculture & Farming and Community & Voluntary sectors and the Secretaries General of a number of Government Departments, including the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. More recently it has been expanded to include Environmental organisations. All are key stakeholders in regard to sustainable development.

Programmes

Enterprise Ireland runs a Supply Chain Management Programme which aims to help companies improve efficiency in the flow of products and information from production through to delivery to the customer. Grant assistance is available towards consultancy and training costs and in-company project management.

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland's Energy Agreements Programme provides businesses with tailor-made support for certification.

Help & advice

Help & advice

Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland supports businesses by giving them advice and training to boost their competitive edge and increase their profits.

Business in the Community Ireland is a non-profit organisation specialising in advice and guidance to leading companies on corporate responsibility and corporate community involvement.

Chambers Ireland is Ireland's largest business network representing more than 13,000 businesses on the island of Ireland. Chambers Ireland's Corporate Social Responsibility Council is focused on developing and promoting best practice in CSR and initiatives to promote awareness of the potential of CSR among SMEs.

E-mail a business organisation near you

The EU runs a network (Enterprise Europe Network) of local business organisations in most European countries that may be able to help you.

Choose your country and town and enter your enquiry below.

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