University of Limerick
Ryan_Fogarty_2009_SMEs.pdf (3.5 MB)

Evaluation of an environmental mangement network solution for small to medium sized enterprises within the Mid-West region of Ireland

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posted on 2022-09-20, 11:11 authored by Yvonne Ryan FogartyYvonne Ryan Fogarty
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial component of the European economy. In light of the current (2008-2009) economic situation, their importance in terms of employment and revenue generation may place them at the forefront of economic restructuring. A definitive assessment of their total contribution to environmental degradation has proved elusive, however, it is estimated that their cumulative impacts are significant. Networks and clusters have been identified as important structures for SME growth, development, and dissemination of supports. Recently, it has been proposed to introduce industrial ecology through networks as a means to enhance the environmental performance of SMEs. This research is based on a pilot project to establish an eco-industrial network among SMEs in the Mid-West Region of Ireland, in which 18 companies were studied. As part of the pilot project each company received an environmental review, a report detailing environmental improvement measures, and a calculation of their ecological footprint. Based on the companies’ environmental issues, uncovered as part of the environmental review, collaborative opportunities for improvement were identified. A workshop was held to ascertain the viability and potential uptake of the opportunities identified. On completion of the pilot project the findings of the environmental reviews, ecological footprint calculations, collaborative opportunities identification, and feedback from the participating companies were analysed. It was found that attributes of the companies’ such as their sector, location, knowledge of legal issues, size, structure, and management of external relationships affected their environmental performance and uptake of improvement measures. Policy approaches required were critiqued based on the examination of the impacts of these attributes. The findings also suggest that the strict use of the SME definition is not useful in predicting the likely environmental impacts of companies and approaches that focus on existing companies, networks and clusters are more likely to advance the implementation of industrial ecology.


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  • Doctoral

First supervisor

O'Regan, Bernadette

Second supervisor

Moles, Richard



Other Funding information




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