Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: 5 Green Business Practices Every Organisation Should be Able to Achieve

3 March 2016

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by the amount of ‘going green’ messages that have been directed at your business, you aren’t alone. Implementing green business practice isn’t always a quick fix, especially if you are a multi-site company with hundreds, if not thousands, of staff.

However, in today’s competitive landscape, businesses don’t have a choice when it comes to going green. Overwhelmingly, it’s what consumers want to see. It makes both financial and environmental sense; taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint often makes your business operations more efficient and, as a result, more cost effective.

At the moment, there’s a big gap between truly eco-friendly businesses and those striving to be greener. There are, however, several green practices that every business should be able to achieve, regardless of size. Here are five ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

The Office: Switch from Paper to Digital Records 

When a company decides to go paperless, it’s normally to benefit the environment and save money. But there is also a third saving: time.

YouGov reported that small to medium-sized businesses waste more than £42.2 million per day in time looking for documents, especially if they have been lost in an old archive system that desperately needs to be updated.

Catering: Invest in Sustainable Practices

With over 7bn mouths to feed, the production of food has a huge impact on the planet and produces 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. And this figure is set to dramatically rise, with estimations that there will be a 60% increase in demand for food by 2015.

The most concerning thing, however, is how much of this food ends up in the bin. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), 1.4 billion hectares of land is annually used to produce food that is subsequently lost or not used, which is unarguably a huge waste of energy and resources.

There are a number of ways businesses can make their catering more sustainable, including using ethically sourced products, such as Fair Trade and Red Tractor, and encouraging recycling by using 100% biodegradable packaging.

It’s also important to ensure that any food waste is composted. This prevents it from adding to the 1.6 billion tonnes of global food waste (FAO), which will mostly end up in landfills where it will rot and release harmful methane gas.

Cleaning: Optimising your Cleaning Operations

Cleaning can have a big impact on the environment, from harmful chemicals to inefficient practices leading to wasted resources. However, it is, of course, something that is impossible to simply ‘cut down’ on, or carry out less frequently.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that businesses can reduce the environmental impact of cleaning. For example, by using enzyme cleaning products, you can reduce the number of harmful chemicals the environment is exposed to, as well as improving performance due to enzymes’ residual cleaning effect (they continue cleaning after the product has been applied).

Other steps include recycling and reusing micro-cloths and floor mops, using ionised water (electrically charged water which attracts dirt and lifts it from surfaces) and changing working patterns to optimise resource use.

Taking these steps will not only make the cleaning process kinder to the environment, but will also make it more efficient and, consequently, more cost-effective.

Energy Management: Use Energy More Efficiently

Wasting energy is bad for the environment, but it also makes little financial sense. Every time you use energy when it’s not needed, it’s money down the drain.

Some of the simplest changes, such as utilising natural light, installing sensors or turning equipment off or down, can make the biggest difference. And, as a result, with little to no investment, you can easily reach a 5-10% reduction in energy usage in no time at all.

It’s essentially about looking at your site and working out where you’re over-consuming, and what changes you can make to reach your target consumption level.

Waste Management: Recycling and Diverting Waste from Landfill

The UK produces around 290 million tonnes of waste each year, of which a massive 50% gets sent to landfill. And with just 22.9 million tonnes of this coming from homes, a huge proportion of this waste is the result of businesses and other organisations.

Improving your waste management is easier than you think. By simply removing recyclable waste from general bins and encouraging staff to recycle where possible, you can make an immediate saving on waste disposal costs – as well as reducing the amount of waste you’re sending to landfill.

In today’s competitive landscape, operating sustainably is the only option for businesses. Not only is it more efficient and cost-effective, it’s what consumers want to see. And contrary to popular belief, every business can implement the above green practices, regardless of size and budget.

To find out more about how to reduce your carbon footprint – and why it makes environmental and financial sense, read our eBook, The "Convenient” Truth About Sustainable Business: Why It Pays To Be Green. Contact OCS today for more information on how we can help you.