From switching to electric vehicles to adding a recycling bin, we’ve rounded up eight ways to make your company eco-friendlier by 2023.
The UK has committed to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but we can all play our part in making this happen.
The first step is understanding what your emissions are in the first place by carrying out a review. There is advice on the government website on how you can do this, which lists how to collect data and set targets.
Following its own review, Which? Trusted Trader The Sash Window Workshop (pictured below) invested in LED lighting to help reduce its electricity usage. It’s planning another review this year to help identify additional areas of improvement.
Whether you have dedicated business premises or work from home, have a look at any changes you could make for your property to become more energy efficient.
Relatively simple and inexpensive improvements include:
- Use door insulation to keep the heat in. For example, if you can feel cold air coming from under an external door, you can fit a weather bar or door brush strip
- Draught-proof windows. This could include a window seal foam, foam sealant or paint brush strips.
- Invest in thick window curtains or blinds to stop heat leaving after dark
If you only have single-glazed windows, investing in double or triple glazing can also increase a property’s energy efficiency significantly. Check out other Trusted Traders to see if anyone offers double glazing installation in your area.
Bigger changes, such as adding wall or floor insulation, can be pricey, but if you own the building you may be able to access grants and funding to help offset the cost of more major changes.
For example, in certain areas of the country the Low Carbon Workspaces government grant offers businesses who have been trading for one to two years a grant of between £1,000 and £5,000.
Find out about more grants here.
If you’re a tenant, talk to your landlord and discuss whether there are any changes they would be willing to make.
A good first step in cutting the carbon footprint of your business waste is to have recycling bins in your office to make it easy for you and your employees to dispose of waste responsibly.
You could also consider what you can do to support and encourage your customers to recycle any of your products and packaging that they use, for example by improving labelling on what can be recycled and how to recycle it.
Which? Trusted Trader removals firm Bournes Moves uses a lot of packing materials, so it set up dedicated areas within its workplace for segregation of recyclable materials. It also encourages customers to recycle any packaging material not collected by its crew.
It has also encouraged staff to print fewer documents where possible, to reduce the amount of paper waste.
Top tips to recycle more
- Carry out a waste audit to see how much is being used by your business
- Keep records so you can monitor the amount of waste you’re recycling
- Nominate a waste champion – this person could take leadership of any recycling issues
- Communicate with your staff and make sure everyone knows what facilities are available.
Every item we throw away contributes to our carbon footprint. Recycling helps reduce this, but it’s even better to cut down on waste in the first place.
Which? Trusted Trader Peter Cox – a damp-proofing specialist business – told us that one of its biggest changes towards becoming more sustainable was reducing the amount of paper it uses.
Surveyors at the company now use electronic tablets to carry out property services and conduct internal training. As well as cutting down on waste, this also means training and health and safety updates can be easily sent to employees digitally.
Other changes it’s made include a move away from plastic cups and upgrading its internal database to enable digital correspondence with clients rather than by post, also helping to reduce paper usage.
Meanwhile, Which? Trusted Trader Engine Carbon Clean says it reuses electric components in building new generators and prototypes to limit waste. These parts include timers, relay switches, power packs, hoses, radiators and aluminium blocks.
According to figures from the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), published by EV charge point mapping app Zap Map, there are now more than 250,000 electric cars on our roads.
That figure is forecast to rise to more than 12m in just over eight years, after the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is banned in 2030.
Many businesses have already made the switch to electric vehicles and the Government has introduced new incentives to help Small and Mid-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with the upfront costs.
The Department of Transport has put together a beginner’s guide for switching to electric vehicles. The government also launched an app last year called EV8 Switch which calculates if drivers could save money by switching to an EV compared with their current petrol or diesel vehicle.
The Workplace Charging Scheme
The Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is a voucher-based scheme that provides eligible applicants with support towards the upfront costs of the purchase and installation EV charge points.
It’s open to businesses, charities and public sector organisations that meet the applicant and eligibility criteria, and is available in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The grant covers up to 75% of the total costs of the purchase and installation of EV charge points (inclusive of VAT), capped at a maximum of £350 per socket and 40 sockets across all sites per applicant. Find out more here.
Plug-in Car Grant
You can get a discount on the price of brand new low-emission vehicles through a grant the government gives to vehicle dealerships and manufacturers.
To be eligible for the grant, the car must have a recommended retail price (RRP) of less than £32,000, including VAT and delivery fees, a zero-emission range of at least 70 miles, and be fully zero-emission.
The grant will pay for 35% of the purchase price for these vehicles, up to a maximum of £1,500 for cars, £2,500 for small vans and £5,000 for large vans. Check the criteria for the vehicles here.
Challenges with switching to EVs
Several Which? Trusted Traders we spoke to said upgrading their vehicles was a challenge due to the cost and business needs.
Instead, they aim to be more sustainable by checking vehicle emissions standards when they buy or replace their vehicles.
Kirsty Parsons, from Bournes Moves, told us: ‘Over time, the manufacturers will also improve the technology and infrastructure, and bring down the cost of more environmentally friendly vehicles so that progress in this high-impact area is more achievable for all.’
When purchasing a sustainable product, you should consider the product itself as well as the process by which it was created.
When purchasing, look for products that
- Use fewer natural resources
- Contain fewer hazardous materials
- Have a longer lifespan
- Consume less energy or water in production or use
- Can be reused or recycled.
Sustainability is not just about buying ‘green’ products, it’s about minimising the negative social and economic effects of your purchasing decisions. In light of this, it’s also worth considering:
- Choosing ethically sourced and fairly traded products – this ensures decent minimum labour standards were met in the production of a whole range of products Fair Trade is primarily concerned with the trading relationship
- Choosing goods that are created and supplied locally, benefiting the local job sector and minimising travel costs
- Utilising products and services from the community and voluntary sectors
- Choosing companies with a good employment ethic – for example, those that offer opportunities for training and skills development, or the use of apprenticeships.
One of the simplest ways to encourage sustainability is by rewarding employees for green behaviour.
You could offer awards, prizes or financial incentives for activities such as reducing waste and minimising energy consumption.
Cycle to work scheme
This government-baked scheme encourages employees to cycle to work by offering savings on bikes and accessories.
The business will pay for an employee’s bike in the first instance and then collect monthly payments to come tax-efficiently from the employee’s salary.
Employers recoup the full cost of the bike and are able to save on employer NICs
at 13.8%. Further guidance on how the scheme works, as well as the benefits to employees and employers can be found gov.uk.
As part of its COP26 Presidency Programme and beyond, the government is supporting all businesses as they sign up to the globally recognised United Nations Race to Zero campaign.
This helps organisations become more energy efficient, switch to electric vehicles and become landfill-free. By doing so, they can protect the planet and their business, while helping us deliver a green business revolution.
UK Business Climate Hub
Launched in May 2021, the UK Business Climate Hub encourages small businesses to go green. These actions are supported by the government’s Together for Our Planet campaign, where businesses can get advice and support and commit to become net zero.
So far, the campaign has helped drive 2,566 sign-ups to the UK Business Climate Hub website, representing 80% of sign-ups worldwide, and played a critical role in encouraging more than half of the country’s largest businesses to make climate change commitments, announced during COP26 in late 2021.
Which? has plenty of tips on how to be more sustainable, whether you’re acting as a business owner or want to become more sustainable in your personal life, so see them here.