O’Hehirs ,ATU Foodcourt service provider, were nominated and won the Sligo Chamber of Commerce Net Zero Award for 2023 in recognition for their successful implementation and management of a suite of greener environmental measures that reduces, reuses and recycles plastics and waste.

O’Hehirs Bakery is a family owned business which celebrates 40 years in business this year. Since 1984, they have baked and distributed our own produce locally initially, gradually building the business and our reputation over the years. Today they operate the largest artisan bakery in the North West from  Sligo Town and employ 350 staff providing a diverse range of high quality products. They now operate a chain of over 20 food and hospitality units across 6 counties stretching from Letterkenny to Galway and from Castlebar to Mullingar.

A significant part of the business operations are the Food Court facilities in both ATU Sligo & Letterkenny where our waste profile was an issue for us. Whilst 95% of our inward packaging was recyclable, more than 50% of waste output was non-recyclable due primarily to contamination in our bins. Managing director, Michael O’Hehir, stated “A full review of our business practices was undertaken and a plan to address this was finalised. It was fantastic that we could align our goal with the management teams in both ATU campuses who were very supportive of creating a greener footprint for the business. We see the achievement with ATU as Phase 1 in our plan to make our overall business more sustainable.”

In late 2022, the team set their plans in place. The removal of all paper cups along with closing the bins to avoid contamination were key project milestones with both changes being embraced by all concerned postively. The plan has resulted in the following achievements;

  • Overall waste generated has reduced by 30% in weight terms
  • Our percentage recyclable waste increased from 40% to 75% which is ahead of 2030 targets
  • Our general waste levels have reduced by 33%
  • And over 500,000 single use plastic items per academic year, have been removed from our Food Court – over 16,000 items per week

For further information on the Green Mission campaign and eco-friendly 2GoCup, visit https://www.ohehirsfoodcourt.ie/ and https://www.2gocup.ie/.