Climate change is a hot topic, if you’ll pardon the pun!
I read on BBC news this morning that the UN has announced that countries will have to increase their carbon-cutting ambitions five fold if the world is to avoid warming by more than 1.5C.
The annual emissions gap report shows that even if all current promises are met, the world will warm by more than double that amount by 2100.
Change will only happen if we take responsibility as individuals and of course as business leaders. Businesses – however big or small – can really influence the way they operate in order to cut their carbon footprint and make an impact.
How to reduce your business carbon footprint
1. Switch to renewable energy
REGO's – or Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin – guarantees that the origin of the energy supplied to you is renewably sourced. Energy suppliers will match this with the estimated consumption of your business. Opting for this is a great way to ensure that your business’ carbon footprint reduces, and is a good way to demonstrate awareness and action.
2. Invest in good waste facilities
Providing facilities for recycling with clear signage and instructions is a great first step. Get your waste contractor involved as they can often provide all you need to implement a successful recycling system. Think about bin type, colour and size. If done properly the end result is higher recycling rates, meaning less should be ending up in landfills – thus reducing carbon footprint. There are over 1,500 landfill sites in the UK, and in 2001, these sites produced a quarter of the UK's emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Electrical and hazardous waste should also be disposed of properly, and many waste contractors do have the facilities to take this.
3. Food waste bins in kitchens and canteens
Check with your waste contractor that it is possible for a food waste collection. Ensure that kitchen staff are all trained in safe and efficient food waste disposal and why it is being implemented. Also communication across all employees will help with the buy in to this way of thinking.
4. Install energy efficient lighting with automatic switch offs
Energy efficient options such as LED are a quick win as the effects of a business-wide change will be long lasting. Investments in technology such as sensors and dimmable lights are another method to ensure lights aren’t on unnecessarily or at their brightest maximum when not required. And as an added bonus, this should also help reduce electricity costs.
5. Question every printing decision
There are lots of ways that businesses are moving away from the over use of paper, such as digitised contract signings, annotating on screen etc. Double sided printing should be set as a default. All these little steps add up to big changes.
6. Minimise business travel
Business flights often make up over half of a business’ carbon emissions. Alternative face to face meetings using Skype and video conferencing can make a huge difference here. Not only will this cut emissions, but it can save your business a lot of money by cutting down flight costs. If air travel is a must, choosing Economy class over Business or First can help minimise the emissions here.
7. Cut down your use of heating or air conditioning
Efficient insulation is the key to temperature controls. Whenever heating or air conditioning is required, ensure it is timed correctly to avoid wasted energy. Any heating and cooling technology should also be regularly maintained for optimum performance. And again, this will also reduce energy bills.
8. Go ‘Sustainably Sourced’
Take a look at your stationary cupboard and see what can be swapped for sustainably sourced. If your business has a large supply chain, then it is important to ensure that sustainability is fed right through. Buy recycled wherever possible. When we recycle, used materials are converted into new products, reducing the need to consume natural resources.
9. Go drastic on plastic!
Cut down on plastic disposal and waste from the organisation. Ensuring the canteen and cafes prioritise ceramic mugs for hot drinks and provide metal cutlery and paper straws makes a huge difference. Employees can be encouraged to bring in reusable coffee cups by introducing loyalty stamp cards, or discounts on hot drinks.
Employees will certainly find it helpful to know why certain things are happening the way they are in order to actually buy-in to any changes and ultimately co-operate. Ideas such as providing information in employee starter packs and electing a team of ‘champions’ together to run initiatives can help spark the discussion and infuse awareness.
We hope you can take from these tips, some ideas of how your business can reduce its carbon footprint. The small changes we make at home and at the workplace really will add up to make a big difference to the health and safety of our planet.