63% of consumers now base decisions on impact of climate change…Shannon Chamber seminar hears

Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes (centre) pictured at the sustainability seminar with (from left): Conor Quin, Heraeus; Annie Duffy, Climeaction; Peter Murphy, Ei Electronics: Douglas Joy and Conal O’Brien, Heraeus; Elaine O’Connell, Analog Devices; Paul Murphy, Climeaction; and Barry Gavin, chair, Shannon Chamber Sustainability Forum. Photo by Eamon Ward


The stark reality of working towards attaining net zero was brought home at a recent seminar hosted by Shannon Chamber via its newly established Sustainability Forum.

The purpose of the seminar, which was held in Ei Electronics’ Centre of Excellence in Shannon, was to brief companies on the rationale for focusing on sustainability, to give them a pathway to commencing their sustainability journeys, and to hear what two companies, Analog Devices and Heraeus Precious Metals, are doing to attain net zero.

The key takeaways from a briefing given by Climeaction’s Paul Murphy and Annie Duffy, a company that provides climate action solutions for all types of businesses were that sixty-three percent of consumers now base their decisions on the impact they will have on climate action and that companies do not realise the amount of change required over the next five years to enable them to attain net zero.

“Investors, customers, employees, and other stakeholders are now looking beyond just financial performance and demanding greater transparency and accountability in businesses’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance,” he stated.

Citing the benefits of adopting a sustainability focus as enhanced reputation, competitive advantage, improved financial performance, innovation and efficiency, and employee engagement and retention, both presenters followed up by giving seminar attendees advice on how to get started on their sustainability journeys.

“Start by understanding your company’s carbon footprint, then use this baseline to develop a list of opportunities for improvement. Set goals and develop a practical strategy to achieve your goals for emissions’ reduction, cost savings and improvement in your overall ESG performance. Then, identify the capacity within your company to deliver this strategy,” they advised.

The benefit of adopting this approach was very evident in presentations given by both Analog Device’s EHS and sustainability professional Elaine O’Connell and a team from Heraeus including managing director Douglas Joy, sustainability and digitalisation lead, Conor Quin, and operations manager, Conal O’Brien.

Advising attendees to put structures and systems in place and to do simple, small things well, Ms O’Connell emphasised the importance of getting buy-in from the highest level within an organisation.

“Sustainability must come from the top down,” she said, adding that Analog’s sustainability team comprises representatives from all departments across the organisation.

“Attaining net zero by 2050 may seem ambitious but if you get the decision makers around the table, a lot can be achieved. Start with energy efficiencies. This is one way to act fast and to see the payback on energy saved,” she added.

Now in year five of its sustainability journey and aiming to be the first precious metals company to be carbon neutral in 2025, Heraeus Precious Metals Shannon’s managing director Douglas Joy and his team outlined the steps the company is taking at meet this target.

“We undertake sustainability walks throughout the plant to brainstorm sustainability ideas. We facilitate the sharing of ideas and information about sustainability and ensure that every global Heraeus Precious Metals’ employee has at least one sustainability key performance indicator (KPI) linked to his/her bonus,” he said.

Having introduced many new initiatives including replacing old equipment with newer efficient models and ensuring that all equipment is used efficiently, Heraeus has already achieved savings of 48,400 kWh per annum by turning its scrubber fans down to 60% outside of working hours. The company has also installed solar panels on its roof and is considering investing in solar car park units and in land to create a solar farm.

As Shannon Chamber CEO Helen Downes said after the seminar: “Companies like Analog Devices and Heraeus are not only leading by example but willing to share their knowledge and expertise with the wider Chamber membership. They are doing so by being active members of our Sustainability Forum and will play a key role in ensuring that more companies start their sustainability journeys.

“This seminar was just one of many that we will host this year, including organising a Sustainability Week in September which will involve all companies in Shannon and the wider region. The structure and contents of this week are being drafted by sub-teams of the Sustainability Forum. Our goal is to support our members in their sustainability journeys and in the delivery of their sustainability goals,” Ms Downes added.