This bulletin was published on 14 November 2017
Recognising resource management: Benchmarking progress in Northern Ireland

Recognising resource management: Benchmarking progress in Northern Ireland

“We must all continue with zeal and hope to maintain the best traditions of the past, but be ever ready to assimilate and take advantage of the practical and scientific progress that develops, owing to the gift of human ingenuity”.
William Pirrie, Titanic-shipbuilder and former Lord Mayor of Belfast, to his employees in 1922

It won’t be easy to achieve the efficiencies promised by a more circular approach to resources. So William Pirrie’s words rang true for us when we visited Belfast last week, to announce the results of the 2017 Northern Ireland Environmental Benchmarking Survey at the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office.

Since 1998, Carnstone has supported Business in the Community NI’s environmental benchmarking survey. This year, 90 organisations took part, disclosing how they are managing their environmental impacts through strategy and governance. They were also scored on efficiency against key resources: energy, waste, water and transport.

The survey gives a strong reflection of Northern Ireland’s economy, with respondents from a wide range of sectors – both public and private enterprises. Respondents range from the country’s best-known brands to SMEs and those near the beginning of their environmental journey.

This year, we focused new elements of the survey on the circular economy. The results point to an emerging commitment to managing indirect or less obvious environmental impacts. Equally encouraging, the majority of survey respondents have developed ongoing relationships with their supply chain and / or their customers to reduce environmental impacts; for example, through recovering end of life materials from customers, providing service-based alternatives to product sales, working together to optimise transport efficiencies or share resources. Partnerships will play a vital role in unlocking efficiencies throughout the product or services lifecycle.

However, there is much further to go, for example in setting more ambitious targets that aspire towards restorative and regenerative approaches, moving beyond mitigation of negative impacts.

The Northern Ireland business community is exceptionally close-knit, and it’s a privilege for us to have been a part of their environmental journey since the survey’s inception.

For more information about the survey and highlights from this year’s results, click here.