As we continue to work towards the government’s net zero emissions by 2050 commitment, businesses are naturally becoming increasingly aware of the need to be more eco-friendly. Other strategies, such as the Clean Growth Strategy, which aims to promote economic growth at the same time as decreasing emissions, mean that the focus on having a positive effect on the environment is now higher than ever.
While businesses may have plans in place to ‘do their bit’, many could still do more. So, what could that mean? Let’s take a look:
Work from home
Working from home is often seen as a luxury. However, due to lockdown following the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have found that it is indeed possible for their employees to work from home. In May, bosses at Twitter decided their staff would be entitled to work from home ‘forever’. This ‘era defining’ decision followed similar announcements from large companies such as Google, who had extended their working from home policies until the end of the year.
Allowing your staff to work from home eliminates the commute. Globally, transport accounts for a quarter of our CO2 emissions. On average, a car fuelled by petrol in the UK produces the equivalent of 180g of CO2 every kilometre. Diesel cars produce 173g of CO2/km on average. While using public transport for your commute may help lower the amount of vehicles on the road, allowing your staff to work from home can obviously eliminate this all together.
It’s not just helping the world we live in either. In the past 12 months, ‘work from home’ has increased in search volume on Google. While there was a spike during the initial lockdown period, there were still a larger number of searches for this term in May 2020 compared to May 2019. This indicates that more people are looking for the opportunity to stay home to carry out their role. Offering such a ‘luxury’ could help keep your staff happy while also allowing your company to be more eco-friendly.
Of course, not every industry is suited to having the option to work from home. The manufacturing industry, for example, requires staff to operate heavy machinery to complete their roles. That doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes to the way you operate to help you become more eco-friendly.
Cleveland Bridge, a steel fabricator and constructor of bridges and complex structures, set out to reduce its carbon footprint and made simple changes in its offices. Chris Droogan, Managing Director of the company, said: “Our maintenance team started to recycle all grey water. This significantly improved our water utilisation.
“Another example was our plan to prevent lights being left on unnecessarily. We installed zonal, passive infra-red and sound sensitive switching as well as LED lighting throughout our offices. Within operations we installed LED lighting, providing significant carbon reduction when multiplied over our operational area of 30,000m2. We also upgraded our heating system to enable greater zonal control and improved efficiency.”
Another way is to switch your portable generators. Switching to LPG (liquid petroleum gas) generators can help many industries. Tom’s Kitchen, a portable food van, is a great example of this. Its owner, Metin Sonmez, expressed the benefits of switching to LPG from diesel: “I opted for an LPG model because it just made better business sense. Within just a matter of weeks, I was making fuel cost savings of around 60% — on a weekly basis that’s a saving of £116.00. The cost of the generator paid for itself within five weeks and the best bit is, the generator just keeps on going for days on end, so I never have to worry about running out of power when I need it the most.”
Such generators have the same power and performance as petrol generators, with the added benefit of up to 40 per cent fuel savings.
Changing your methods
Training your staff to work smarter can help you lower your carbon footprint. While you may choose to change to energy-saving lights, leaving them on at all times is still going to have a detrimental effect. Make sure you bring in certain methods and ensure your business is efficient.
It could be as simple as implementing a recycling system — if you don’t have one already — and ensuring your staff follow it. Are your waste bins clearly labelled? Do your staff know that their takeaway pizza boxes at lunch time, for example, can’t be recycled?
Another simple fix is to turn your office ‘paperless’. In the last four decades, the use of paper worldwide has risen by 400 per cent. This has led to rapid deforestation, so turning paperless can help save our trees and allow them to continue playing their critical role in absorbing CO2 from our atmosphere.
Each of these points can help your business become more eco-friendly and improve the environment we live in. It’s a distinct possibility that, as the years go by, there will be more stringent laws put in place for businesses, so get ahead of the curve and ensure you’re doing all you can in the present to avoid a possible issue in the future.