This was the central message from Noel Duffy, director of Cork’s Clean Technology Centre, when he spoke at the Irish Water, Waste & Environment/Irish Recycling & Waste Management exhibition in Dublin this week.

While Mr Duffy might have been preaching to the converted, he did so with a logic that is hard to contest.

“Any business takes materials in, which either get turned into a product or service, which can be sold, or end up as waste, which you must pay for,” he said.

“It’s very simple, what goes in, must come out and waste is inefficiency, it’s plain bad business.

“If you consume less resources, you save money. If you produce less waste, you save money so obviously, waste prevention can pay.”

Changes that seemed small could make a huge difference, said Mr Duffy, giving the example that cutting water use by a fraction could, over the course of a year, save even a relatively small company thousands of Euros.

Armed with a series of convincing case studies, Mr Duffy showed how a salmon smoking plant had earned brownie points with its neighbours by dramatically cutting its smelly emissions while producing an improved product for less money and how a precision plastics moulder has massively reduced waste and costs by reviewing its processes.

He said it was not uncommon for the products of companies which had taken a close look at their environmental performance to also end up with superior products simply because they were scrutinising their operations and had adopted a mindset that was looking to make improvements.

Mr Duffy also claimed opting out of environmental awareness was becoming increasingly difficult for business and the days of burying your head in the sand were coming to a close.

“The rise of EMS means people have no choice, they have to take their environmental performance more seriously as even small companies a long way down the supply chain will find their customers, the bigger companies, want their suppliers to meet the standards of the ISO14001,

“Prevention has a money driver behind it, if you don’t prevent it, it’s going to cost you money and if you do, you’ll save it which means less pain and more gain.”

by Sam Bond

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