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Ei chairman and CEO Mick Guinee reviews the plan with Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes

Leading Clare firm sets out sustainability stall

THE progress of Ei Electronics is one of the great success stories of Clare business, with the company now employing 1060 people in Shannon and still seeking to add to that figure.

This week saw it publish its first Annual Sustainability Report, charting its progress over the last 12 months as it seeks to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Writing in the report company chairman and CEO Mick Guinnee said that sustainability is vital to the company’s future.

“I have set the Ei Electronics Group the ambitious target of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030. In some ways this is a daunting taks – however I believe it is not only achievable but is an essential contribution by this company to the preservation of the planet for future generations.

“We will be focusing on the identification and reduction of carbon emission sources – from the design of our products to how we manufacture, where we source our components, our energy efficiency, transportation and travel and waste management. We can and must reduce the Greenhouse gas impact of our business.”

He noted that sustainability is not solely about the environment, but a also about social equity and economic development.

Hence, he wrote, the company is critiquing all aspects of the Ei Electronics Group as a workplace in terms of diversity and inclusion, learning and development, governance, ethical business conduct etc.

“We will be exploring more ways in which we can benefit the communities in which we do business, something which has always been part of our business philosophy.

“We firmly believe that a company can only be sustainable in a fair and equal society and in our almost 60 year history, we have lived by those principles.”

Peter Murphy, Strategic Business Development Manager, Ei Electronics, said that the company has made a lot of progress in a relatively short time.

“About two years ago we set up a green team just to look at low hanging fruit to see where we could cut out waste, and it was really around paper and packaging, with the products we have, the smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, we manufacture about 12 million a year.

“We have a load of paper and plastic packaging and all that kind of stuff. We just said we’ll look at how we can reduce that.

“We put a lot of our user guides online, we digitised those and cut out some of the packaging. We saved about 50 tonnes of paper, which is huge.”

He said the company isn’t entirely sure how to get to carbon neutrality, but he expects that continuous incremental improvements will deliver the larger goal.

“It’s a bit akin to when Kennedy announced there was a target of America putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. He announced that in the early 60s and when asked how, he said he didn’t know, but we’ll set it as a target! It’s a bit like that and it was achieved by 1969!”

“Everyone is in the same boat, even the Government talk about a 50% reduction in Ireland’s emissions by 2030 but they don’t know how they’re going to get there and it’s going to be a really big challenge. But you set the target and work towards it.”

He said that the company must be sustainable in other ways also.

“Quite often when people think of sustainability they think of the environment, the carbon footprint and carbon emissions. The view we’ve taken, which a lot of companies are doing, is looking at it much wider than that, it’s making a sustainable business as well.

“For your employees it has to be a sustainable place to work, so you can attract people in, keep them working and keep the business going, that’s sustainability as a work place.

“Another pillar we have is the market, which is customers.

Customers all over the world were challenging us, they were under pressure from their customers to use sustainable products, so they were saying there’s laws coming in our country and if this continues we won’t be able to do business in a number of years time, we’ll have to have green suppliers. We were getting pressure from them. That’s another pillar, the marketplace, the workplace and the environment.

“Then there’s the community, which has also been an important one for EI, sustainable community, so we have to look at the region. We want this region to be a good place to work and live for the next generation and the one after that, we’ve a responsibility on that front as well.”

He said there has been great support from the company’s workforce.

“It’s got great buy-in, employees want to see the company is thinking like this.”

One of the county’s largest employers, he said they are currently looking to add to their workforce. “We are hiring. We’re always looking for people, the business is going well and we’re constantly looking for people to join us. You’re probably seeing it across the board, the jobs market is tight and it’s getting more and more difficult to get people.”

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.