18 November 2021

5 easy ways employers can improve corporate sustainability

In the wake of COP26 employers are increasingly aware of the need to improve their organisation’s sustainability practices. Today, research shows that 90% of Europe’s 500 largest publicly listed businesses have a sustainability strategy. Hundreds of internationals have also taken the climate pledge to become net-zero by 2040.

But while many businesses are well on their way to carbon neutrality, many organisations are just taking their first baby steps to becoming more sustainable. Aside from offsetting carbon production by paying for it, what are some easy wins businesses can make to become more environmentally friendly?

Look at their suppliers and associates

Perhaps the most profound way that any organisation can improve their green credentials, is to take a more macro view of their situation rather than looking purely within the company itself.

From selecting a green energy supplier to making the move to recycled packaging, by scrutinizing the practices of the brands an organisation works with, purchases from, or supplies to, businesses can make dramatic reductions in their carbon output.

Embrace hybrid and flexible working

While wholly remote working became the norm for many in the midst of the pandemic, as things gradually return to ‘normal’, many employers are trying to incentivise workers back into the office. In fact, two-thirds of businesses are purportedly considering pay cuts for home workers.

However, reducing the amount of time travelling to work and the frequency which they do so will invariably reduce a business’s overall carbon footprint, along with numerous other benefits.

Give items a second life

Many consumers wouldn’t think twice about popping into a charity shop or having a browse on eBay to find a bargain. But the idea of businesses buying second hand has always seemed a bit taboo, perhaps because it could give the impression that a company may be struggling.

However, huge amounts of energy and waste go into the creation of products businesses use every day. Over three million tonnes of perfectly good office furniture alone finds its way into landfills every year. Therefore, a simple and cost-saving exercise for businesses to improve their sustainability is to give items such as office furniture a second life.

Alternative transport

Encouraging employees to travel to work in a more environmentally conscious way, when they do need to visit the office, will further reduce a business’s carbon footprint. From staff shuttle buses to free breakfasts for people who walk to work in the morning, there are a number of incentives various employers are taking, but by far and away the most popular has been the government backed cycle to work scheme. Not least because, typically, organisations can save 13.8% of the total value of salary sacrifice in National Insurance contributions.

Think about the long term

Ultimately the most important thing a business can do to improve its sustainability is to formulate a long-term strategy to reduce their net emissions over a long period of time. Exactly what will go into this plan will be determined by the precise business, but frequently it involves investment in things like more energy efficient equipment, electric vehicles, and premises too. Remember that while the procurement of new items has its own intrinsic carbon cost, this can be offset if in the long term it will reduce emissions and consumption.

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