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Going green is good for business

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Company guidance

I’m sure we’ve all been enjoying warmer weather recently, the longer daylight hours, pottering about in the garden, taking in the fresh air, leaving the coat and scarf at home. It’s all well and good until the night draws in and it’s too stifling, uncomfortable, and humid to sleep.

According to the Met Office, 2022 was the UK’s hottest year on record with an average temperature of over 10°C recorded for the first time in history. You can see evidence of the UK’s changing climate in the distribution of hot and cold annual records. Since 1844 (also the year in which Companies House was formed), the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 2003. In the same time span we’ve not recorded a top 10 coldest year in 60 years.

Climate change affects everyone. Although we cannot stop global warming overnight, there’s lots we can do as individuals and in business to help the environment and try to reduce the effects.

At home we’re all now familiar with the concept of sorting our plastics, glass and tins and putting them out for recycling in the various colour coded bags and boxes. Recycling is also important within a business environment and making it convenient and as easy to do as possible helps to improve your business' recycling efforts. Placing paper recycling bins near desks and printers, putting plastic recycling bins in canteens or lunch areas, and introducing used battery collection stations in high-traffic areas can help.

Going green can:

  • boost your competitiveness
  • lower costs
  • enhance your reputation with customers and staff

Our colleagues at the British Business Bank have some useful green business guides, jargon busters, and helpful explainers – everything you need to know to get your business started on the journey to net zero.

Nature graphics with the text: Going green?

Net zero

Put simply, net zero refers to an overall balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. The world’s governments, scientists and heads of industry have all agreed that we need to take urgent action to avoid further global warming.

Reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases is not only important for all types and size of business but makes good business sense. The government has committed to a legally binding target to bring greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and all businesses can play their part in the race to net zero.

Becoming more sustainable and preventing the production of emissions are 2 of the key factors that businesses can adopt as they move towards a greener future.

There are also many other practices and processes to help your business transition to a net zero company, including:

  • calculating your carbon footprint to help identify any climate risks - there are tools and resources on the SME climate hub
  • creating a strategy to outline how your business can work towards lowering and eliminating emissions, setting milestones and regularly monitoring progress to keep momentum
  • informing employees and educating them about the company’s ambitions

Do not forget to check if there are any government funds or grants to support your plans.

Benefits of sustainable practices

Integrating sustainability into business practices not only benefits the environment and society but can also offer many advantages to your business.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental and social issues. By demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, you can enhance your brand image and reputation.

Investing in sustainable practices can attract environmentally conscious customers who are more likely to support and remain loyal to eco-friendly companies.

Examples of sustainable behaviours for small businesses include:

  • using biodegradable packaging
  • stopping paper use and digitising company records and filings 
  • reducing water use with water-saving faucets and reusing rainwater
  • recycling or donating office equipment

Embracing sustainability can be an attractive factor for potential employees. Many employees now look for purpose-driven work environments and are more likely to stay with employers who show their commitment to sustainability.

Becoming a net zero business may also be attractive for investors and shareholders.  The investment landscape is evolving. There's a growing emphasis on sustainable investing. Investors, including institutional funds and asset managers, are increasingly considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when making investment decisions.

Sustainable businesses are in a better position to attract capital from these investors if the investors prioritising companies with strong ESG performance. For businesses, access to capital can promote:

  • growth
  • expansion
  • innovation

Renewable energy

Businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by switching to renewable energy. It can take a lot of effort, resource, and expenditure to change from legacy systems to renewable energy, but the long-term benefits, money-saving and environmental advantages are of significant value.

Another way to reduce emissions and protect the environment is by switching to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are clean, quiet and easy to use. There’s none of the loud engine noise, pollution or smells associated with petrol or diesel vehicles. With the phase out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans brought forward to 2030, making the change now makes sense.

No matter how big or small your business or what industry or part of the UK you’re in, your commitment to create a sustainable business and prepare for green growth could make a real difference.

You can find more information and guidance to help your sustainability goals from the British Business Bank and the UK Business Climate Hub.

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