BECOME A UK
BUSINESS CLIMATE LEADER
2021 IS THE YEAR OF CLIMATE ACTION
– START YOUR NET ZERO JOURNEY TODAY
A business opportunity like no other
This year, businesses of all sizes around the UK are committing to do their bit to cut carbon emissions and protect the planet.
The UK government has partnered with business owners and respected climate groups to help you join them today.
No matter how small your business or what industry you’re in, your commitment could make a real difference – to your business, to your customers, to your community, to the planet – and to your energy bills!
Even the smallest businesses produce carbon emissions – it could be through your building, your vehicles or your supply chain. We’re asking you to commit to cutting those carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050. Net zero means that you are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than you are taking out of it.
When you commit, we’ll get in touch with tools to help you understand your emissions, how to tackle them, and how to share what you’re doing with your customers and your community. And in the following months we’ll keep you up to date with the latest ideas and incentives to help you meet your commitment.
2021 is the time. This November the UK government is hosting a major conference in Glasgow where world leaders will get together to commit to urgent action to tackle the climate emergency. It’s called COP26, and all eyes will be on the UK to agree the most ambitious plans to fight climate change the world has ever seen.
And you can be part of it. Become one of thousands of small business climate leaders across the UK this year and commit today.
“We’re committing to net zero by 2030 and have already taken action – our packaging has always been recyclable and compostable and as we’ve grown we’ve put more initiatives in place, for example a recycling system which saves thousands of litres of water every time we distil. Any small thing you can do can help, not printing paper when you don’t need to, turning the lights off, it’s all going to help the planet and help us to reach our goals.”
Zoe and Andrew Arnold-Bennett, Founders of Shed 1 Distillery
“This is a crucial time in our global fight against climate change and we encourage all business owners to factor sustainability into their choices. A great place to start is packaging. Reduce the need for new materials and switch to reusable, recyclable or compostable options and look at offsetting your shipping. We hope to pave the way for more emerging conscious brands and inspire others to think in a more sustainable way.”
Natalie Glaze and Zanna Van Dijk, Co-founders of Stay Wild
“At Healthy Nibbles we are committed to continuous improvement with sustainability being a key part of what we do. We are proud of our achievements as a small business. However, we are equally aware that it is only through collaboration, improvements at scale and encouraging others to join the net zero journey that true difference will be made.”
Sarah Roberts, Founder and CEO of Healthy Nibbles
“We believe in progression and ensuring that we are doing everything we can to meet the highest standards possible. We hope to inspire and drive change through example. Never see environmental initiatives as a burden and instead see how they can benefit company morale. Even a small switch is a win for your conscience and the planet.”
Susie Ma, Founder and CEO of Tropic Skincare
“Being part of the push towards net zero provides a greater sense of purpose and accountability. That’s why we’ve pledged to be net zero by 2025. We couldn’t offer energy efficiency advice if we weren’t putting those measures in place ourselves. This helps us be firmer in our decisions and that we show integrity, we do the right things.”
Garry Shaw, Managing Director of SURE Solutions
Steps you can take to cut your emissions
Getting greener might look different for every business, but there are steps you can take whether you’re just starting out or further along the road to zero emissions. Here are some ideas to get you started…
Introduce a cycle to work scheme
Reducing your impact on the environment could be as simple as allowing your employees to make changes to how they work and travel.
Support your employees to cycle to work through a salary sacrifice scheme. This is better for your employees’ health and well-being and better for the planet. The Cycle to Work Scheme is a tax-efficient, salary-sacrifice employee benefit. You can also save on reduced National Insurance Contributions on the cost of cycle hire.
Insulate your buildings
Non-domestic buildings are responsible for 9% of UK greenhouse gas emissions every year.
Properly insulating your windows, walls, doors, roof, chimneys and pipes will reduce your energy use, cutting emissions and saving you money on bills.
According to CDP data, you may be able to make the money you spend back in as little as a year, and on average most companies see payback in 4 years.
(source: Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics: 1990 to 2018)
Minimise the waste from your products and packaging
Waste isn’t only bad for your bottom line, it’s bad for the environment. Most production processes contribute to carbon emissions, and if products cannot be reused or recycled, then incinerating or landfilling discarded plastics and other rubbish releases more carbon and potentially other harmful chemicals into the atmosphere.
WRAP have resources and tips that can help you tackle this waste, including:
- reducing the amount of packaging you use
- using recyclable materials
- minimising the use of unnecessary single-use plastics
- reducing the environmental impact of textiles and clothing by designing for durability, with greater use of more sustainable fibres and recycled
- smarter storage for perishable goods to avoid food waste
- clear labelling on appropriate disposal methods, so your customer can do their bit too
According to CDP data, you may be able to make any money you spend on reducing waste back in less than a year.
Switch to LED bulbs
Upgrading from conventional lighting to LED bulbs could deliver cost savings of up to 80% for your business.
LED bulbs use less energy, last much longer and reduce maintenance costs compared to regular bulbs, meaning you’ll make back the cost and more. You can save more money by installing lighting controls that automatically switch or dim lighting.
The Energy Technology List is an easy-to-use source of information on energy efficient products for buildings and provides a list of verified efficient products, including lighting.
According to CDP data, you could make your money back in as little as a year, and on average most companies see payback in under 3 years.
Adjust heating and cooling system timings, temperatures and rooms
You could significantly lower your energy consumption and emissions by turning your heating down by just one degree.
Other changes you can make right now include:
- setting your thermostat correctly
- making sure systems are turned off when the building is unoccupied
- turning air conditioning off if you have a window or door open
- keeping radiators free from obstructions
For larger premises, you could consider installing a Building Management System to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning. According to CDP data, businesses who installed these systems report on average it took between 1-3 years to recover their costs.
Install a smart meter
Smart meters enable you to take control of your business’ energy use and costs – and put an end to estimated billing and manual meter reads.
Speak to your energy supplier directly to find out about having a smart meter installed at no additional cost and check Smart Energy GB for more information.
Talk to your supply chain
We will only make progress towards net zero emissions if everyone gets involved.
Ask the businesses in your supply chain how they are reducing their emissions. This could prompt them to take action and may give you new ideas. Try having a conversation about reducing environmental impact with each of your suppliers at least once in the next 3 months.
How about factoring in environmental impact next time you are looking for a new supplier?
Electrify your vehicle fleet
Electric vehicles can save you money and offer a superior driving experience, as well as reducing your environmental impact.
Go Ultra Low have a selection of tools that can help you work out:
- what government incentives are available for your business
- potential savings on fuel, tax and road charges
- which vehicle is right for your business, how far it can travel and the location of your nearest charging points
According to CDP data, businesses who have replaced their vehicles report that on average it took between 4 and 10 years to recover their costs.
Install your own renewable electricity or heating
Switch from a gas boiler to a low carbon alternative, like a heat pump or solar thermal, and you will immediately reduce your impact on the environment.
Or generate your own renewable energy, for example by installing solar panels, and you could even make money by selling excess electricity you produce back to the grid.
These projects have higher upfront costs and you may need planning permission before starting work, so will work best if you are planning on remaining in your current premises for the next few years allowing you to recoup the costs.
According to CDP data, businesses who installed their own renewable electricity or heating on average made their costs back in 1-10 years. Solar PV is the most common type of installation, which on average took businesses between 4 and 10 years to recover costs.
Offset the carbon you can’t reduce
You should focus on making changes to cut your own emissions as far as possible. However, some emissions may be very hard to tackle in the short term.
In this case, you could consider paying another organisation to help avoid, reduce or capture carbon elsewhere through methods like tree planting or renewable energy projects. As well as reducing net emissions, these projects can have other benefits, like increasing biodiversity.
If you do choose to offset some of your emissions, the UK Government has set out guidance (page 115) to help ensure the initiative(s) you choose are good quality.