10 ways to reduce your business carbon footprint

Businesses – however big or small – can really influence the way they operate in order to cut their carbon footprint and make an impact. There are a multitude of changes that can be made to the way a business operates in order to do this. We have compiled a top 10 checklist that can aid this process…

1. Switch to renewable energy backed by REGO certificates

REGOs – 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. Using the GHG Protocol market-based calculation method, your emissions for electricity will be zero!

2. Investing in good waste facilities

Waste management is a big challenge for many businesses today. The first step is ensuring facilities are clearly available for recycling. Implementing signage to help guide people as to what goes where can help. Such facilities can sometimes be provided by your waste company, so having a conversation with them can help your business to understand what can and can’t be recycled by their waste contractors. An array of different bin types are also available online, which vary by colour, size, lid, etc. Investing in this is a must. Recycling properly can ensure higher recycling rates, meaning less should be ending up in landfills – thus reducing carbon footprint. Electrical and hazardous waste should also be disposed of properly, and many waste contractors have the facilities to take this.

3. Ensuring food waste bins are available in kitchens and canteens

Linking to the above point, food waste can really be an issue, particularly if your business has a canteen serving fresh food every day, or a café. Check with your waste contractor if food waste collection is possible. Ensure that kitchen staff are all trained and aware of the issue, and provide proper facilities, in kitchens, dining rooms and canteens for employees to dispose of any food waste they may have.

4. Ensuring energy efficient lighting wherever possible, and incorporate automatic switch offs

Changing lighting across a building to more energy efficient options such as LED can make a big difference and is a quick win with long lasting effects will be long lasting. There is also an array of technology available, such as motion sensors which will automatically ensure lights are switched off if rooms are not in use. Dimmable lights are another method to ensure lights aren’t at their brightest maximum when not required. This should also help reduce electricity costs.

5. Print as minimally as possible

This step is a no brainer. Many offices consume vast amounts of paper. Taking action to cut down this use, especially by reducing printing, and digitising more actions. This can be implemented by digitising contract signings, avoiding printing emails, presentations and annotating on screen instead. If printing is required, ensure double sided printing is set as a default. Having ‘follow me’ printing services across office printers can also help cut down any accidental or unnecessary printing as options can be altered at the time of printing.

6. Minimise business travel

Business travel, especially flights, can often make up over half of many business’ carbon emissions. Cutting travel down, especially if meetings can be held over 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. Ensure your office space is well insulated so it requires minimal unnecessary heating or air conditioning

A business’ space can be dynamic, and there are all sorts of technology that can be implemented to increase efficiency. Implementing temperature controls, ensuring heating and air conditioning is timed correctly and according to outside air temperatures. This can minimise over heating or cooling. Ensuring that temperature is minimal during the night is also important. Any heating and cooling technology used should be regularly maintained for optimum performance. Finally, this will reduce energy bills.

8. Procure sustainably sourced items

This could be as simple as buying sustainably sourced paper and stationery, for instance, phasing out certain stationary items such as plastic mechanical pencils and only providing the more ‘classic’ pencils. Buy recycled paper instead of primary production reduces carbon emissions as stipulated by the GHG Protocol. Indeed, if your business has a large supply chain, then it is important to ensure that sustainability is fed right through.

9. Stop provision of plastic cutlery and similar measures

Another key point. Phasing out the provision of plastic cutlery and straws in canteens, and replacing these with metal cutlery and paper straws, this will cut down on plastic disposal and waste from the organisation. Ensuring the canteen and cafes prioritise ceramic mugs for hot drinks, or even phase out disposable cups, could make a huge difference. Employees can be encouraged to bring in reusable coffee cups by introducing loyalty stamp cards, or discounts on hot drinks.

10. Engagement!

Getting people on board can sometimes be one of the biggest challenges that businesses can face. All the above points need to be intertwined with the engagement piece, as employees often need to know why certain things are happening the way they are in order to co-operate. Some steps to at least raise awareness can be as simple as incorporating information into employee starter packs. Getting a team of ‘champions’ together to run initiatives and engagement pieces can help spark the discussion and infuse awareness. Putting on events or competitions amongst employees, by drawing on themes such as having a sustainability week or Earth Hour, can help with the engagement piece.

 

This list provides just some of the steps a business can take to reduce carbon emissions and play their part in driving change. Businesses are pivotal change makers and influencers in the road to a cleaner future, and now is the best time to act. Investing in change now will also reduce costs for the business – it’s a win-win situation.

 

We have launched an online course that pragmatically helps organisations become more environmental using all the experience we have all built over 15 years; Green Element Academy.

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