Castletownbere Fisherman’s Co-operative Society won the top accolade ‘Green Business of the Year’ at the prestigious Green Awards 2017 attended by over 500 professionals in the Clayton Hotel, Dublin.
Beating off stiff competition from a range of well-known successful Irish companies including Flavahan’s, Kerry Group and Glanbia; Ireland’s largest Co-op based at Dinish Island, Castletownbere, West Cork were also the proud recipients of the ‘Green Seafood Business Award’ sponsored by BIM, Ireland’s Seafood Development Agency.
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 €60 million last year. The Co-op catches high-quality fish direct from its own fleet of fishing trawlers. It 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 this award means for the Co-op, “As a business that is wholly owned by fishermen, we are absolutely delighted and honoured to have won the Green Seafood Business of the Year award. After over 40 years trading fish, we are keenly aware of our responsibility to our local environment and our fishing resource.
“Working with BIM and our Green team 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.”
Castletownbere Fishermen’s Co-operative is at the forefront of developing measures to improve environmental performance. During the first quarter of 2016, the Co-op who have a successful contract with Spanish retailer Mercadona, ran a pilot project to reduce product packaging. This project which essentially reduced the use of plastic lids on polystyrene boxes 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 10 million euro during 2016.
The business of sustainability is a priority for BIM as Donal Buckley, Director of Business Development and Innovation said, “Sustainability has become a critical requirement for accessing higher premium markets and doing business with global food companies. BIM will continue to focus on positioning our seafood industry at the cutting edge of green business; enabling our businesses to adopt green business strategies that deliver in terms of competitive advantage, cost efficiencies and employee engagement.
“Considering this is the second time in only three years, an Irish Seafood company has won the overall Green Award; there is no disputing the Irish Seafood Sector’s achievements and leadership in this field. Congratulations to Castletownbere Co-op and all of the seafood nominees.”