Business Benefits – Advantages

What are the advantages of going Carbon Neutral?

The advantages to going green fall into three broad categories:

  1. It helps you to cut costs and improve productivity.
  2. It will help you to win new business and attract or retain staff.
  3. It may be necessary in order to comply with legal regulations – and avoid any penalties for non-compliance.

There will of course be overlaps between these categories, which are outlined in more detail below.

It is worth bearing in mind that small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) have much more impact on the environment than they commonly realise. Although three-quarters of SMEs do not think their business has a negative impact on the environment, SMEs are in fact responsible for up to 80% of all pollution incidents and for more than 60% of industrial and commercial waste in England and Wales, according to the Environment Agency.

Cutting costs, improving productivity

Taking steps to minimise waste and use resources efficiently will not only reduce the impact that your business has on the environment – it can help you to cut your business costs and improve productivity. Far-reaching gains in both business and environmental efficiency can also be achieved through initiatives such as cleaner design.

Even apparently low levels of waste can have a significant impact. The Environment Agency points out that:

  1. A PC left on overnight wastes the same amount of energy that is required to laser print 800 sheets of A4 paper.
  2. Lighting an empty office all night wastes enough energy to heat water for 1,000 cups of coffee.
  3. Costs rise by about 8% for each 1°C by which business premises are overheated. (Recommended temperatures are: 19°C for offices; 16°C for workshops; 10-12°C for warehouses and stores.)

By employing waste minimisation techniques, businesses in a wide range of industries may be able to make savings that are equivalent to between 4% and 5% of turnover, the Environment Agency says. For manufacturing companies, savings may typically amount to £1,000 per employee, frequently with little or no capital investment.

These cost savings are often not just ‘one-offs’ but are recurring, says the Environment Agency. In fact, UK manufacturers could save £2-2.9 billion a year in operating costs by investing in best-practice waste minimisation techniques, it says.

Winning Business, Attracting Staff

Society is changing. For example, 40% of eggs bought in the UK are now free-range, despite their higher cost. Companies that have recently operated in the ethical brand space have seen their profits soar.

Green & Blacks Organic chocolate is the UK’s fastest-growing confectionery brand, with 66% growth year on year, compared to overall market growth of just 0.7%

In the US, the consumer segment which makes its buying decisions in keeping with their values of social and environmental responsibility is growing at 1% per year … but the dollar (spend) going into the market –now at $355 billion — is escalating about 10% a year.

“Greening the supply chain” has passed into the corporate dictionary. This has important implications for all suppliers.

Even service-based companies with a small direct environmental footprint can be making high indirect impacts on climate change.

A business’s choice of paper suppliers, for example, could have a damaging effect on its reputation. And as it’s now common for procurement departments to interrogate the environmental credentials of their suppliers, this can seriously impact gaining and retaining business.

Businesses looking to attract new recruits and hold on to existing members of staff would do well to bear in mind the findings of research by the Carbon Trust.

A survey of more than 1,000 employees by the organisation found that three-quarters wanted to work for a company that is taking steps to reduce its level of carbon dioxide emissions as part of a wider desire to work for an environmentally-friendly firm.

What’s your business’s Carbon Footprint?

Use our unique Carbon Calculator to find out.

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