By Denis Hurley
CASTLETOWNBERE Fishermen’s Co-op beat off stiff competition from a range of well-known companies to claim the prestigious Green Business of The Year award at the Green Awards 2017.
Held at Dublin’s Clayton Hotel, the awards – sponsored by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Ireland’s seafood development agency – were attended by more than 500 professionals as the most energy-efficient organisations in the country were feted.
In addition to taking the top prize ahead of the likes of Flahavan’s, Kerry Group and Glanbia, the co-op – which is based at Dinish Island in Castletownbere – also won the Green Seafood Business Award.
Founded in 1968 by a group of fishermen with the initial aim of purchasing fuel in bulk, the co-op has evolved and expanded to become a highly profitable business with a turnover of €60m last year. The co-op catches high-quality fish direct from its own fleet of fishing trawlers and then operates its own processing plant which has 60 tonnes of chill, 200 tonnes of cold storage and 50 tonnes of freezing capacity.
Donal O’Sulllivan, assistant manager of the co-op, emphasised what the award meant.
‘As a business that is wholly owned by fishermen, we are absolutely delighted and honoured to have won,’ he said.
‘After over 40 years trading fish, we are keenly aware of our responsibility to our local environment and our fishing resource. Working with BIM has resulted in a 3.5% reduction in electricity usage and a 36% reduction in waste to landfill despite a production increase of nearly 400 tonnes.
‘We installed solar panels late last year which are expected to save us €18,000 a year in electricity costs. All our fish are certified, traced and fished within EU quotas with many vessels certified to the Marine Stewardship Council and BIM’s Responsibly Sourced Standard.’
The co-op – which has a successful contract with Spanish retailer Mercadona – continues to be at the forefront of developing measures to improve environmental performance.
During the first quarter of 2016, a pilot project was run to reduce product packaging.
This project essentially reduced the use of plastic lids on polystyrene boxes and saved the company direct packing costs, transport costs and space on trucks to mainland Europe.
This storage method has now been rolled out across product exports to the value of €10m during 2016.