Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am delighted to be here to officially launch the national SMILE Resource Exchange.
Thanks to Sean (O’Sullivan) and Michelle (Green) for inviting me.
When we last met, this service was expanding into Dublin – now it will be available nationally.
This initiative has grown from strength to strength.
And we should not be surprised.
“Waste not Want not” is a philosophy shared by many of us.
So this service makes sense.
The concept behind the initiative is that one company’s waste is another company’s resource.
The SMILE Resource Exchange, backed by the EPA, the National Waste Prevention Programme, Local Enterprise Offices and Local Authorities, is a free service for businesses and provides a user-friendly website as well as running facilitated business networking events.
Through these mediums businesses can request “Wants” and make “Offers” of reusable materials, by-products, surplus stock that could potentially be a resource in another business.
I understand that the exchange already has more than 1100 members and its aim is to identify potential links between them.
So far SMILE has already identified over 700 potential linkages among its members to-date.
The website is very active – with more than 200,000 hits already recorded and new resources are being offered and sought each day.
All of this helps to improve our economy. We spend approximately €46 billion on raw materials per annum: The EPA estimates that 2% efficiency in material consumption spending per annum would yield savings to the national economy of about €928 million in the first year.
Being resource efficient is therefore clearly good for business, good for our economy and good for the environment.
To secure recovery in the economy we must enhance competitiveness and build resilience in our business community.
And I mean all businesses from the micro cottage businesses with a few employees to huge multi-nationals employing thousands of people.
Greater efficiency today is key to future competitiveness.
Ireland has a well-established and successful National Waste Prevention Programme.
It focuses on resource efficiency and promoting more sustainable production and consumption.
By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of it and thereby avoid having to pay for these services.
It also makes economic and environmental sense to view waste that can’t be prevented as a resource and to maximise the value which can be extracted from it.
The Government’s waste policy, A Resource Opportunity, is based on this overarching principle.
The future of the Irish economy requires us to move from an unsustainable way of consuming raw materials, to a smarter, greener and efficient model resulting in a reuse of materials.
A smarter economy is one where more jobs can be created in new companies to service that economy.
The significant opportunities of the Green Economy are recognised in the Action Plan for Jobs 2014 which has already contributed to the 80,000 new jobs added to the economy since its launch in early 2012.
In this context I commend the innovative thinking behind SMILE.
I commend too the work of the management team in establishing key international links and the full SMILE team in collaborating with other industry networks in Europe to form the European Industrial Symbiosis Association (EUR-ISA).
The SMILE programme has come a long way from its pilot phase first launched in 2010 in Cork and I have no doubt it will continue to grow from strength to strength.
I would urge the business community to engage with it to protect the environment and your pocket.