A leading animal feed manufacturer is to invest £2.5 million in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint by 10%.
Belfast-based Thompsons has signed an agreement with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) that will also see it accelerate research on ways to make the agri-food industry more environmentally friendly.
The voluntary prosperity agreement is the third such accord the NIEA has struck with a major private manufacturer in the last year.
In return for the commitments by Thompsons to minimise its environmental footprint, the agency has committed to examine ways to reduce the bureaucratic burden on the industry.
Thompsons is due to cut CO2 emissions by 2,000 tonnes per year.
Signing the agreement at Thompsons' site in north Belfast, Stormont Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: "This groundbreaking voluntary public-private partnership will see compliance standards exceeded at lower costs. It will substantially reduce impact on our environment, provide greater transparency and access, stronger financial results for business and economic growth for Northern Ireland.
"Thompsons is an innovative and progressive company and a key environmental influencer in the agri-food sector and an outstanding example that 'good for the environment, good for business' can be achieved through co-operation, innovation and strong leadership."
He added: "This is not just about reduced CO2 emissions from Thompsons' plant. More nutritious animal food produced by it means less harmful emissions into the environment from farm livestock. Better awareness of environmental responsibilities on farms will further demonstrate that Northern Ireland is serious about creating a world-class clean, green agri-food sector."
Declan Billington, chief executive of Thompsons, said the pact was a significant step.
"The signing of this agreement affirms Thompsons' belief that improving on-farm production efficiencies through nutrition will also improve the environmental footprints of farms and will profit both rural communities and the environment as a result," he said.
"The most profitable way to expand the agri-food sector is by improving the production efficiencies of our products and processes, thereby reducing our environmental impact and improving knowledge across the sector. This is exactly what we are doing through this agreement."