5 ways to create a sustainable business

Want to be a more sustainable business but don't know how? Gudrun Cartwright, Environment Director for the business charity Business in the Community, shares her insight on how you can 'go green' in your business.

Building a sustainable business isn't just a trend – it's how many businesses are now standing out from the competition. The journey to greener pastures isn't without its challenges, but making the changes now could bring long-term benefits. "Being eco-friendlier is not just a side issue, but core to the reputation of your business and its future resilience and success," says Gudrun Cartwright. Increasing numbers of companies are focused now on being more socially responsible. So how do you go about doing the same?

Think about energy

Lowering energy usage is one of the best ways of reducing your carbon footprint. It is used in every aspect of your product process, from manufacturing to design, from delivery to sales. "Look at your energy bills and think about how you can reduce the amount of energy you use through efficiency measures," Cartwright advises. "Consider investing in renewable energy services to benefit from long-term cost management and security of supply." Whether it is getting a government grant to install solar panels to help power your manufacturing plant, or just changing your office's light bulbs for energy-efficient versions, reducing your energy usage is one of the easiest ways to increase your company's eco-friendliness.

Think about supply chains

Creating a culture of sustainability within your supply chain is key. "Think about how your wider supply chains can create sustainability opportunities and further your progress," says Cartwright. If you supply larger companies, she also advises that you see how you can work with them to increase your sustainability credentials. These credentials could help you access new supply chains.

Think about waste

Commercial and industrial waste must go somewhere, and often it heads to landfill. This can have a serious negative impact on the environment. "Waste has a cost, particularly if it is going to landfill, but there are opportunities to turn waste into a resource," Cartwright says. "Figure out how to recycle or reuse your business's waste by talking to your waste management provider."

Remember: The little things matter

Cutting carbon usage could be as easy as flipping a switch. Cartwright suggests these basic energy efficiency steps to reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Turning off lights in empty offices and rooms
  • Reducing water usage
  • Use recycled paper and printer cartridges
  • Use tele-com systems instead of traveling for meetings
  • Promote flexible work hours

Think about new products

As the impact of climate change continues, sustainability is quickly becoming the mark for many consumers looking to decrease their carbon footprint. "Society is changing rapidly," says Cartwright. "From climate change to the impact of digital transformation, businesses are being disrupted with ever increasing speed, and customers are more concerned about the values and behaviours of the companies they buy from." Innovative R&D can help you develop new products that could play a part in decreasing your customers' carbon footprints. "As the world starts to focus on meeting global climate change agreements, think about the business opportunities in low carbon," says Cartwright. "Do you have products and services that contribute? Can you create new products or services that will accelerate progress?"

Think about your community

When it comes to creating a sustainable environment, numbers are important. Building a sustainable reputation in your community can go a long way towards making a global impact. Cartwright advises: "Build positive relationships with the local communities where you operate. Share your skills, knowledge and time through volunteering to make a difference." Spreading your knowledge of global sustainability will help ensure you positively influence attitudes in your community.

For more information on sustainability in business, visit the Business in the Community website.

Thought leadership from HSBC

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