What makes our dairy so sustainable?

Ireland’s Origin Green programme is the only food and drink sustainability programme in the world operating on a national scale

What is Origin Green?

Launched in 2012, Origin Green is a national sustainability programme for Ireland’s entire food and drink industry.

It is the only food and drink sustainability programme in the world operating on a national scale, uniting government, the private sector and food producers through Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board.

Working across all levels of the supply chain, this independently verified programme, enables Ireland’s farmers, food producers and retail and foodservice operators to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets – reduce environmental impact, serve local communities more effectively and protect the rich natural resources that Ireland enjoys.

National sustainability programme for Ireland’s entire food and drink industry

How does Origin Green work?

Farm Sustainability Data Gathering

Grazing Season










This online real time database provides a full profile of every animal in every herd. It shows full details of births, deaths, sales, and purchases and accurately records the length of time each animal has spent on the farm.

Farm Info collected on auditor handheld device

Bord Bia

Feedback report sent to each farmer


This information ranges from calving dates and intervals to replacement rates and daily live weight gain.

On-farm assessments constitute a key component of the Origin Green programme. Each week, more than 100 farm auditors undertake about 650 independent farm audits, on an 18 month cycle. Traditionally, these assessments have focused on traceability, animal health & welfare, and general environmental issues, with an overarching focus on food safety.  In 2012, these well-established schemes were expanded into Sustainable Assurance Schemes, marking the beginning of Origin Green. The additional sustainability criteria being measured to date, as part of Origin Green include greenhouse gas; biodiversity; water measures; energy efficiency; soil management and socio-economic factors. Following each audit, the farmer receives notification of the results in a feedback report on the farm’s performance, with reassessments every 18 months. This allows them to make informed decisions on improving the sustainability of their farms while also improving their efficiency and farm viability.

Manufacturing Target Areas

Raw Material Sourcing

Mix of targets are set under this target area. At least one should address packaging while additional targets should focus on the sustainability certifications of key raw materials and / or sustainability initiatives with suppliers.


Manufacturing Processes

Mix of targets are set under this target area. Companies have the option of setting targets in the areas of energy, waste, water, emissions and biodiversity.

Social Sustainability

Mix of targets are set under this target areas. Targets locus on health and nutrition, community engagement, employee wellness and / or diversity & Inclusion in the workplace.

At present, Origin Green has over 340 companies with independently verified and annually monitored sustainability plans. These members represent 90% of total Irish food and drink exports. 

At Manufacturing Level

Ireland’s food business members commit to a mandatory mix of target areas specified by the Origin Green Charters;  Manufacturing, and  Retail and Foodservice. The mandatory areas, from which targets are set, form the basis of a business’s 3-5 year sustainability plan. The plan is independently verified by international inspection, testing and verification specialists,  Mabbett, to ensure the targets are viable and robust. Each plan is reviewed annually and monitored for progress against the set targets. Membership of the programme is confined to those setting and achieving targets.