10 Top Tips to Making Your Business More Sustainable – Without Becoming a Green Washer!
By Nicola Finn, Head of PR at Oggadoon.
Responding to climate change is a shared responsibility. September through to November, there are several events like Technology Live 2021, Climathon 2021 and the vast COP26 coming up which will magnify key environmental issues across different sectors, reinforcing the need for the commitment and the acceleration of purposeful governmental and corporate social responsibility initiatives.
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020/21 also created permanent shifts in working practices which certainly cannot be ignored and provide many opportunities to reshape current practices, integrate smart tech and build back better.
So how can you drive action as a business and improve your credentials, without being branded a green washer? Here are a few tips.
1, Make Sustainability a Corporate Objective
It is important to allocate responsibility and resources to making change happen. Make sure you have a green champion or a team responsible for working with stakeholders to assess internal strengths, weaknesses together with the external opportunities and threats. Then create the plan that drives the internal and external CSR initiatives, action, improvement, and change.
2, Capital expenditure (CAPEX) v your operational (OPEX) in Tech Purchasing
A traditional model of buying technology products and platforms is through the traditional OPEX purchasing model of buying tools for the longer-term use, paying a large upfront cost, an investment for the business. However, there is an argument to favour a SaaS model as the costs can be split over time, there is no in-house IT involvement, this simplifies adoption as the platform is owned, maintained, upgraded, and delivered by the SaaS provider, rather than hosted on the client’s premises. The same can be said for other IT equipment that is used sporadically. Instead you could hire it, resulting in less energy use.
3, Monitor and reduce your energy consumption, wherever possible.
You may need your security lighting 24/7, however it is possible to lower or turn off your heating in the evenings or weekends when no one is working. It’s also a good idea to benchmark other providers, ensuring that you are getting the best deals and associated ways to monitor efficiency. Another option when designing the layout or refitting a building is to integrate a software tool like Demand Logic which provides actionable intelligence to property managers and building contractors. It is intended to deliver quantifiable benefits in a short space of time and to make the management of buildings easier.
4, Greenify your supply chain/ distribution network
As part of your sustainability objectives, consider your external supply chain and look at different practical ways you can greenify it and reduce your carbon footprint, as this will help you reduce costs and become more efficient. Companies are increasingly capturing green supply chain improvement metrics and technologies to support the wider strategic plan
Sectors that are already hot on this mission include industrial, food, consumer packaged goods and high technology organisations as they are investing in R&D supply chain sustainability solutions that streamline R&D and engineering. This allows companies to innovate and explore other product designs that are more sustainable, mapping out and helping to weigh up cost vs sustainability metrics, creating clear metrics for trade-offs.
As a business, you can collaborate with suppliers to identify and implement alternative materials that help reduce weight and packaging costs. This could include initiatives that focus on changing packaging specifications to reduce total logistics costs. An example of this is how Costco worked with suppliers to redesign the one-gallon milk container. This resulted in the milk container fitting on a standard pallet, cancelling out the need for specialist tools and equipment. It also reduced the total amount of plastic resin in the packaging, cutting costs further. This could include the development of technologies and products that are built more efficiently or help businesses monitor key metrics towards achieving a goal.
5, Invest in sustainable projects
Look at what is happening around your local community. There will surely be some environmental or sustainability initiatives going on. You could get involved by volunteering for a few days at a charity or initiate a sponsorship project.
6, Integrate into personal objectives
Make sure that you make it easy for staff to separate unused or waste items effectively and write it into their personal objectives.
7, The 4R waste hierarchy- Reduce, recycle, reuse, recover
This waste hierarchy approach also triggers other positive environmental results, such as resource savings, pollution decline, the reduction or total avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions.
As well as making the huge changes across larger organisations, don’t forget smaller changes also make a big difference. This could be printing on double-sided documents rather than single to save paper, or simply not printing at all sharing the screen in meetings. Meeting travel and commuting is another policy that can be reviewed now we have all embraced the video conference. Waste is often the result of bad planning or inefficient monitoring of resources. For example, over-ordering food for a film shoot or a conference. Rather than the produce being thrown into the bin, it can go to a local food bank.
This happened at the G7 police and security conference earlier in the year, as reported by the BBC. However, quick-thinking enabled tonnes of food to be ‘reused’ by donating it to local food banks. An interesting national food redistribution charity is FareShare, which was borne out of the belief that no good food should go to waste, especially when people are going hungry. They have built a great platform to drive financial or food donations from both individuals and businesses nationally.
Reuse can be applied to products and packaging, once used the first time. Creativity can create a whole new purpose for example a plastic bottle can be made into a plant pot. There are lots of creative ways to do this. Repairing products like laptops and selling on or donating to charity is another way of reusing. Reusing is preferable to recycling as products don’t need to be re-processed before it is used again, reducing the environmental impact,
Recycling takes all the waste material that can’t be reused and prevents them from going to landfill, making waste into new products and goods. For recycling to be effective the materials need to be organised separately for the obvious need for process efficiency. The material is then used to either create the same object as before or totally transform it into something different, i.e. glass can be used for new jars or as recycled materials for use on roads or in construction projects.
Once everything has been reduced, reused, and recycled (including composting). It is possible to use the rubbish left to generate power and heat. This is called recovery as different types of treatments can create different types of energy or replace other materials, from biogas to electricity to tyres replacing cement.
Going sustainable is everyone’s responsibility, it isn’t just about jotting a few goals down and trying to achieve a few of them. That is just the beginning. Always try and measure the impact that you are making, review what is working and what isn’t and set more goals and plans.
We could go on and on about ideas to drive sustainability through using technology and decisive action. However, we hope that these ten tips have set you on the path to becoming a greener, more efficient, and more productive business.
Here’s more information about the up-and-coming events and panel discussions mentioned at the beginning of this article please visit:
Technology Live, 28 September 2021, London Design Centre.
Climathon 2021, 25-30 October 2021, Online, Global.
United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), 1–12 November 2021, Glasgow.
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